White patches on the skin, sometimes accompanied by white hairs, are the result of vitiligo, an autoimmune condition in which the body’s immune cells attack the color-producing (pigment-producing) cells.
Thyroid illness, alopecia areata, diabetes mellitus, Addison’s disease, and myasthenia gravis are only some autoimmune disorders with which it may coexist. The course of vitiligo is highly variable, and it can either be contained in the first affected area (localized) or spread to other body parts.
Factors contributing to white patches on the face include:
Concerns with the immune system:
According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, vitiligo is most likely an autoimmune condition (NIAMS). This condition is an example of an autoimmune disease, which occurs when the immune system incorrectly targets a standard body component (in this case, melanocytes) as a potential invader.
The autoimmune disorders Hashimoto’s (thyroid), type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriasis are all more common in people with vitiligo, as is psoriasis, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS).
- While scientists have pinpointed several risk genes for vitiligo, they still can’t say for sure who will be affected.
- Even though vitiligo can be inherited, it is not particularly frequent. Some cases of vitiligo may be inherited since approximately 20% of persons with the disorder have a parent, sibling, or child with the condition.
According to NIAMS, vitiligo can be triggered or made worse by physical trauma or stress to the skin, such as sunburn or exposure to industrial chemicals. Sunburns are more common in areas of the skin with less pigment.
Who is at risk of getting vitiligo?
Although anyone can develop vitiligo, it often first appears between the ages of 2 and 40. Anyone of any race could be impacted. The widespread idea that people of African heritage are more likely to get vitiligo is unfounded; the ailment may present more visibly as a cosmetic issue in people with darker skin.
But there is good news; vitiligo can be managed to a certain level. Here’s what you need to know about the treatment for white patches on the face.
Treatment methods for vitiligo:
Depigmented skin can be pigmented using a process known as phototherapy, which involves exposing the affected area to a specific wavelength of light (often narrow band ultraviolet B). It may take up to a year of twice- or thrice-weekly treatments for noticeable, often incomplete, repigmentation.
nbUVB (Narrow-band ultraviolet light B):
Patients with patches of white skin disease have the best success with nbUVB therapy. It is often done in a dermatologist’s clinic twice or thrice weekly, it involves a time commitment but is generally safe when administered correctly. You can also buy cheaper, less powerful versions of these booths for use in your own house. How nbUVB is delivered significantly impacts its safety and effectiveness as a treatment.
The excimer laser uses a single wavelength of light to provide similar therapeutic effects to narrow-band UVB (which is what lasers do). Within the nbUVB spectrum, at a wavelength of 308nm, this appears to be the “correct” wavelength for treating vitiligo. It’s incredibly efficient but can only treat small portions of skin at a time; thus, it’s typically utilized when a patient has a few spots. Doctors often switch to excimer laser treatment when a patient responds well to nbUVB, and only a few minor spots remain.
Handheld UVB units:
Portable UVB-emitting devices can be purchased from several retailers on the web for a low price. Compared to nbUVB booths and lasers, their strength is low, and they are unlikely to provide the same level of protection.
There are various options for treating vitiligo, and the chosen method should be individualized for each patient.
PUVA (Psoralen plus Ultraviolet light A):
Many countries provide topicals containing PUVA and instruct patients to sit in the sun after application. PUVA is the combination of the chemical psoralen with UVA exposure, which can come from the sun or a light booth in a dermatology clinic. While this treatment for patches of white skin disease was its original application, it has broader potential.
MKTP (Melanocyte-Keratinocyte Transplant Procedure):
Successful therapy and even cure patches of white skin disease have been achieved by transplanting melanocytes and keratinocytes from healthy parts of the body to the vitiligo-affected portions of a small subset of patients. The segmental form of vitiligo, in which the condition affects only a small area on one side of the body, responds well to this treatment.
Vitiligo surgery aims to restore pigmentation to the affected area by transplanting melanocytes (pigment cells) that can survive in the absence of other cells. There are many ways to harvest the melanocytes necessary for this transplantation.
Small pieces of your healthy, pigmented skin are removed by your doctor and transplanted into the places where you’ve seen pigment loss. This treatment option may be right for you if you only have a few small patches of vitiligo. Reach out to the best vitiligo specialist in Coimbatore to undergo treatment for vitiligo.
Tips for managing vitiligo:
It’s difficult to anticipate the course of vitiligo. You could feel better if you concentrate on changing the things you can change. That’s why doctors who specialize in skin care provide their vitiligo sufferers with the advice below.
Protect your skin from the sun:
Lacking pigmentation, the skin is more susceptible to sunburn. Sunburn can make vitiligo symptoms worse.
To add to why sun protection is important, lighter skin tones should also be noted. Lighter spots and patches are often less noticeable when you don’t have a tan.
Have a healthy lifestyle:
- Autoimmune disorders like vitiligo are real. The immune system is mistakenly targeting healthy tissue.
- Dermatologists will tell you that a healthy immune system starts with lowering stress and eating well.
- New vitiligo patches may occur if you’re under a lot of stress. Deep breathing, meditation, and physical activity are all proven methods for relieving stress.
Having vitiligo can be a lifetime struggle. Although there is no known cure, a healthy diet, and other treatments may help manage symptoms and slow the disease’s progression. If you’re concerned about how vitiligo will affect your skin, you should schedule an appointment with a dermatologist.