VITILIGO

Vitiligo is a pigmentation disorder of the skin and mucous membranes. It is progressive, with the affected skin losing its colouration. Vitiligo affects 0.5-2% of the world population over twenty years old. It is not contagious or life threatening, but it does last for life, which patients can find upsetting and depressing.
The characteristic white patches are more common where the skin is exposed to the sun, and patients with vitiligo will notice their hair turn grey at a relatively young age.

Causes
The condition occurs equally in people of all races and skin colours, male and female alike. But the risk of it developing increases if you have a close blood relative with vitiligo or you have an autoimmune condition, especially Hashimoto’s disease (thyroid disease) or alopecia areata (hair loss).

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What You Can Do

Some patients opt to avoid treatment and use makeup, self-tanning and skin dyes to disguise the affected areas.

What We Can Do For You

Our dermatologist can diagnose vitiligo by physical exam and a review of your medical and family history.  It might be necessary to perform a blood test to check your thyroid gland.
He or she will then discuss the treatment options we can provide. These include:

  • Several topical medicines to repigment the skin. Topical medicine works best with people with dark skin but can’t be applied to the face in all cases.
  • Light treatment to repigment the skin. This light works best on the face and is less effective on hands and feet.  Patients need two to three treatments per week for several weeks and that is combined with topical corticosteroid treatments.
  • PUVA light therapy uses UVA light and a medicine called psoralen to return colour to the skin.  It is fifty to seventy-five percent effective in repigmentation of the face, trunk, upper arms and upper legs. It requires twice-weekly visits for about a year.
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