What is vitiligo?
Vitiligo or leucoderma is a condition of the skin where colour of the skin is lost in blotches. The rate and extent of loss of colour is not predicted. Leucoderma can affect hair, eyes and even the inside of the mouth. Though it can affect any skin type, the condition is not contagious or life threatening. Vitiligo can cause life style disruptions with low self-esteem.
The cells in the skin called melanocytes, break down and stop the production of melanin leading to depigmentation. Patches of skin become light and turn white. This condition is associated with
- ■ Disorder occurring in the immune system that could destroy the healthy melanocytes in the skin
- ■ Stress, over-exposure to sun or to chemicals
- ■ Family history of vitiligo
1. Oral medications- Prescriptive oral medications can help in suppressing the body’s immune system and allows the pigment of the body to return back in leucoderma. Psoralen with a combination of photochemotherapy can be helpful in restoration of pigmentation. The drug renders the skin light sensitive and turns pink triggering a healing process and the skin returns its normal colour.
2. Suction blister grafting- A normally pigmented donor site is subjected to negative pressure to promote the formation of blisters. Blisters can be raised with the help of a syringe, suction cups or suction pumps. The syringe sizes are usually 10 m1 to 20 ml and takes around 2 hours for the development of the blisters.
3. Mini-punch grafting- Small sized full thickness grafts are harvested and placed in the affected area of leucoderma along with PUVA. It is a very simple and efficient technique and commonly preferred. 2mm bits of skin are punched from the donor site and placed on the recipient areas where also punches would have been created.
4. Split thickness grafting- Layers of skin are shaved off from the donor site to be placed on the recipient site. Large areas of skin can be covered with split thickness grafting. This technique produces uniform pigmentation in leucoderma
5. PRP Therapy- Platelet rich plasma therapy can be very effective in the treatment of vitiligo if there is a small patch of affected area. Centrifuged and concentrated blood plasma is administered to the skin to induce effective pigmentation. Blood is drawn from the patient’s own body and causes no side effects.
6. Phototherapy- Considered as the gold standard in the treatment of vitiligo, phototherapy or narrow band UVB light, is one of the most common treatments for vitiligo. It uses UVB spectrum from 311-112 nm. PUVA light therapy uses psoralen as oral medication along with UVA light.