Saturday, September 30, 2017

Everything You Need To Know About Vitiligo

Reposted from Dr. Mercola

Vitiligo is a skin condition that has been around for centuries and has been documented in various historical accounts. The clear cause for this condition has not yet been pinpointed because of the varying external factors connected to its development. However, it is now being credited as an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks and kills off the cells that are responsible for the production of melanin.
Some of the earliest documents describing this condition go as far back as 3,000 years ago, some of which are found in Egyptian and Vedic texts. The only problem is that there is no clear contrast between vitiligo and leprosy during those ages, which led to the shunning of people with vitiligo from society because of the collective fear.1
These two conditions are different even though both cause depigmentation. Nowadays, a wider array of diagnostic devices and clearer distinctions between the two have lessened the societal stigma of vitiligo.

The Psychological Impact of Vitiligo

The loss of the melanin in select areas of the body can lead to a heightened sensitivity and risk of sunburn. But aside from this intolerance to sunlight, the physical changes to a person’s appearance can also cause severe psychological impacts on vitiligo patients.
This is because even though vitiligo has been proven to be noninfectious, some people still tend to be frightened of it, and to even shame or ridicule those who have it. The stigma of this can cause those with vitiligo  to suffer numerous psychosocial issues and psychological repercussions.
Various studies have shown that the emotional effects caused by vitiligo can vary from mild embarrassment to complete loss of self-esteem because of the gradual change in the appearance of those who have it. Some of the recommended ways to prevent this include family support and counseling.2

Vitiligo Can Increase Your Risk for Other Autoimmune Diseases

People with vitiligo have also been observed to have a higher chance of developing various autoimmune diseases, including:3
Alopecia areata refers to hair loss, which is caused by the immune system's attack on hair follicles. It can be seen in various areas of the body, mostly on the scalp or the face.4 The risk for this disease does not depend on race, age or sex, with everyone having the same risk as anyone else in the population.5
Autoimmune thyroid diseases. The thyroid is responsible for the production of some of the hormones that regulate important body processes. Having an autoimmune thyroid disease mean that the immune system is unknowingly attacking the thyroid glands, which then causes them to either produce too much or too little of these hormones.
The body processes that depend on these hormones then go haywire, affecting the whole body system. Examples of autoimmune thyroid diseases include Graves’ disease and Hashimoto’s disease.6
Addison's disease is an autoimmune disease where the body is not able to produce enough hormones because of the destruction of the adrenal glands. Two of the important hormones these glands produce are cortisol and aldosterone.
Cortisol is responsible for the regulation of blood sugar and inflammation, while aldosterone functions by regulating both blood pressure and blood volume by controlling salt and water levels.7
Diabetes mellitus. This disease occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin or when body cells have become insulin resistant. There are two types of diabetes mellitus: Type 1 and Type 2, with Type 1 being an autoimmune disease. Type 1 occurs when the body is unable to produce insulin because the immune system destroys the insulin-producing beta cells.8
Read these articles to know more about the symptoms, causes, treatment and prevention for vitiligo. You will also learn various holistic treatments and how you can deal with this autoimmune disease naturally.

Vitiligo Treatments

The treatment for vitiligo incorporates varying approaches on dealing with the gradual depigmentation vitiligo causes. Most of these treatments focus on evening out the skin tone and minimizing the obvious effects of vitiligo on the appearance of patients. To improve the appearance of their skin, some patients settle on using cosmetic products to decrease the noticeability of their vitiligo.

Conventional Treatments for Vitiligo

Aside from the cosmetic option, conventional medicine also offers numerous techniques that help in reintroducing pigment to the skin. Some of the most common vitiligo treatments include the following:1
Light therapy. This procedure helps in evening out the skin tone by exposing the skin to UVB light, causing the skin to produce pigment.
This, however, does not stop the appearance of other white patches on the skin or stop the repigmented site from losing pigmentation again through time. Some possible side effects of this technique include hyperpigmentation in the surrounding areas, severe sunburn and blistering.
Another type of light therapy is psoralen and ultraviolet A (PUVA) treatment. This is done by applying psoralen, a pharmaceutical molecule derived from plant chemicals, onto the skin and exposing it to UVA light. While this has been acknowledged as one of the most effective treatments for vitiligo, patients have also been observed to have a heightened risk for developing cataracts and skin cancer in the long term.2
Depigmentation. This technique is usually prescribed to patients with universal and widespread vitiligo. The procedure entails the removal of any remaining melanocytes to even out the skin color of the vitiligo patient by the application of monobenzyl ether of hydroquinone to the remaining pigmented skin. But because of the removal of the remaining pigment, the patient will have a much higher sensitivity to sunlight and will need to take extra care for the rest of their lives.3
Surgery. This is often the last choice for vitiligo patients when other conventional treatments fail. This is done on people who have had stable vitiligo for a couple of years. Skin grafting or cellular grafting is the most common surgical technique. This is done by grafting healthy skin onto the white vitiligo patches to reintroduce melanocytes to the depigmented regions.4
It should be noted that these conventional treatments for vitiligo may lead to numerous side effects that may affect your lifestyle and skin health. Most of the treatments that contain chemicals eventually lead to skin atrophy, which is the gradual deterioration of the treated skin. Thus, you should consider natural remedies first to address the symptoms of this condition.

Natural and Holistic Treatments for Vitiligo

The safest way to treat vitiligo is to use natural and holistic techniques, which will ensure that you’re safe from contracting any serious long-term effects on your health. Some of these natural techniques include the use of the following herbs:5
Ginkgo biloba. It has anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory and antioxidant properties. It also helps in decreasing oxidative stress, which is one of the factors that influence the development of vitiligo. Researchers have shown that the ingestion of this herb has helped patients slow down the spread of the vitiligo or even inhibit its progression.
Psoralea seeds. These seeds are one of the most utilized and well-known natural remedies for vitiligo because of their ability to mimic the sun's effect on the skin. This promotes the melanocytes to produce more melanin where it is applied. This is often used with tamarind seeds and is topically applied on vitiligo patches.
Basil leaves and lime juice. A topical solution made from these two ingredients has been noted to aid in the production of melanin. To make this concoction, mix basil leaf extract with lime juice and apply three times a day for about six months.
Amni visnaga. Khellin, a furanochromone derived from amni visnaga, has been observed to assist in the repigmentation of vitiligo patches with constant use. This component of the amni visnaga plant is comparable to psoralens, the chemical used in the PUVA phototherapy, but without the heightened risk for skin cancer after treatment.
Before using these natural remedies for vitiligo, it is best that you consult a health professional for the right dosage and proper application. It should also be noted that the use of these herbs show varying effectivity on each individual. For vitiligo patients who are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is strongly advised that you consult a health practitioner about the safest vitiligo treatment methods you can opt for.