What is Vitiligo
Vitiligo is a skin disorder in which white patches of skin appear on various parts of the body because pigment cells of the skin, melanocytes, are destroyed in certain areas. It isn’t painful and has no major health ramifications, but it can cause emotional and psychological distress.
Experts aren’t sure what causes vitiligo, but they believe it is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys cells, in this case skin pigment cells. It usually develops in people before the age of 40, many times as early as their mid-20’s, and the condition can be genetic.
Vitiligo sometimes runs in families, but the inheritance pattern is complex (caused by the interaction of multiple genes with environmental factors), and most of the specific genetic and environmental factors that contribute to developing the condition have not been identified. Therefore, it is difficult to predict the exact risk for other family members to develop vitiligo. About one-fifth of people with this condition have at least one close relative who is also affected.
This skin disorder, which affects two million people in the United states, is observed in both sexes equally and no ethnic background is immune. The only difference is that the white patches are more noticeable on someone with darker skin.
What are the options
In Southern California where many people spend a lot of time in the sun, the use of sunscreen is essential to protect unpigmented skin from sunburn and to limit the tanning of normal pigmented skin. Self-tanning lotions can also be helpful for some patients.
As you can imagine, someone with this skin disorder would be searching for a medical treatment to at least reduce the severity of the condition. However, at this time there are no proven remedies that cure vitiligo, but makeup, dyes, or skin creams can improve the appearance.
This young lady shows her makeup regimen to cover her vitiligo patches:
Although the makeup does an amazing job of hiding the lighter patches, there are techniques that are showing potential for long-term results.
Many individuals start by treating vitiligo with topical corticosteroid creams. However, if there is no response within a couple months, more than likely this treatment will not be effective.
There is also oral psoralen for spot treatment and combined with light therapy, this technique can help restore some skin tone.
The next step to restoring normal skin color is to try a skin graft. This technique involves transplanting a graft of the patient’s normal skin into the area affected by vitiligo. There are potential risks such as infection, scarring, and splotchy coloring.
Skin Cell Transplant
Dr. Amit Pandya, Professor of Dermatology at UT Southwestern, refined and enhanced this technique, which uses a less painful process rather than cutting into the skin to obtain the cells needed for the transplant. The cells are harvested from a painless blister raised on the skin, then transferred to the area of involvement to replace the missing pigment cells and restore the individual’s natural skin color. UT Southwestern is the only center in the United States to use this technique and one of only two to perform this type of cell transplant surgery, called non-cultured epidermal suspension (NCES) grafting, cellular grafting or melanocyte keratinocyte transplant procedure (MKTP).
See the original post here: Dermatologist offers unique treatment for vitiligo skin discoloration
The above article was from 2015, so this method has been around for a couple years but it seems to show promising results and is less invasive than a skin graft. Call your Southern California cosmetic surgeon or dermatologist to find out more about treatments for vitiligo.