WHAT IS IT?: Vitiligo is a skin disorder in which the destruction of pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) creates white patches on various parts of the body. It can be as mild as one small patch or as severe as large depigmented regions across the body. Vitiligo usually spreads quickly when it first occurs. It may continue doing so for years, halt, or go through a resting phase before spreading again. The cause of vitiligo is unknown, but current studies note an association between the skin disorder and oxidative stress. Vitiligo can affect any race, but it is more visible in those with darker complexion. Though the condition may affect one's self esteem, it is not a life- or health-threatening condition.
PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACT: Depending on the severity of the skin condition, one's self esteem can become severely impacted. Having obvious white patches on the skin can make one self conscious and affect one's self image, especially in a society where physical appearance is valued. According to one study, "majority of vitiligo patients experienced anxiety and embarrassment when meeting strangers or beginning a new sexual relationship and many felt that they had been the victims of rude remarks."
MEDICAL TREATMENTS: First thing is first; see a dermatologist if you suspect you may have vitiligo. The sooner you see one, the earlier it may be treated. Medical treatments range from cortisones to skin grafting to PUVA and more. For detailed descriptions of these treatments, click here.
NATURAL TREATMENTS: Assuming medical treatments have failed you, there are natural alternatives you may want to explore, such as L-phenylalanine, Ginkgo biloba, vitamin E, etc. Some of these options are debatable, but studies on Ginkgo biloba prove promising for ceasing the progression of vitiligo.
COVER UP WITH MAKEUP: Over the years, concealers and cover cremes have improved in durability and skin tone varieties. You may choose to conceal your vitiligo so that it is less visible or unnoticeable. Look into brands like Dermablend, M.A.C., Mary Kay, and Cover Girl for ethnic skin tones. To get your exact complexion, you can mix concealers within or across brands. Concealing the affected areas can help to boost your confidence.
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS: Stay away from even complexion and skin lightening products, both of which may aggravate your vitiligo. Examples of such products include those with soy, licorice, and hydroquinone, to name a few. Include foods with antioxidants (which work against oxidative stress) as a regular part of diet. Examples include: green tea, tomatoes, black tea, carrots, cranberry juice, etc. Minimize stress in your life.
WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS:
This is easier said then done, but when you have exhausted all treatments, do not let the skin disorder destroy your self esteem. Stay confident in your self image. Surround yourself with positive family and friends. Be grateful that the condition is not life threatening. Be thankful for what you do have in life.
SOURCES & MORE READS:
MEDICAL TREATMENTS #1
MEDICAL TREATMENTS #2
NATURAL TREATMENTS (summary)
NATURAL TREATMENTS (full text)
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