Vitiligo is a skin disorder that has received a great deal of attention, but very few truly understand the disease and the impact it can have on a person. It is believed that two to five million people in the United States have the disease. If you have been diagnosed with the disease, it is important you understand what it is and what you can do about it.
What Is Vitiligo?
Vitiligo is a progressive skin disease that occurs when the cells that are responsible for producing melanin die to cease to function. As a result, color loss in the skin can occur. The effects of vitiligo is not limited to the skin. It can also impact the inside of your mouth and hair. The disease can occur in any person, but is usually more noticeable in people with darker skin.
For some people with vitiligo, emotional and social distress can occur. Counseling might be necessary to help you cope with the physical changes that you see. Due to the loss of melanin, you are also at risk for developing skin cancer.
How Is It Treated?
Some people choose not to receive medical treatment for the disease since it is considered to be progressive. The treatment that is available focuses on improving the appearance of the skin. For instance, the use of corticosteroid creams can help in the earliest stages of the disease. However, the cream can lead to the development of thin skin, so it is not a long-term solution.
Light therapy is also sometimes used. The therapy can help to return some color to the splotches on your skin. You might have to undergo several treatments to fully realize the benefits of the therapy. Laser therapy has the same impact as light therapy and is sometimes used in combination with topical medications to treat the condition.
If the vitiligo impacts a large area of the body, you can opt for depigmentation. Depigmentation involves using a topical medication to remove the remaining pigment in your skin. Your dermatologist can recommend how long you have to use the drug.
What Can You Do?
It is important that you focus on protecting your skin. Remember to apply sunscreen before going outside. If possible, cover the skin that is impacted by the disease.
Since vitiligo is a progressive disease, it is important that you work closely with your dermatologist to development a treatment plan. Although you cannot completely stop the disease, early detection can be instrumental in slowing its progress.
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