What is Vitiligo and What Can You do About it?
It is somewhat distressing to be young, healthy, and in good shape, only to notice sudden patches of skin discoloration. Maybe the backs of your hands, your inner thighs, or spots on your face are suddenly whiter than the surrounding skin. Patches of your hair may even go grey prematurely.
While your mind may immediately go to allergies or skin cancer, you could likely have a condition called vitiligo. Although it can be distressing, especially on those with darker skin, you can inform yourself and even treat your de-pigmented skin.
What is Vitiligo?
Characterized by the destruction of melanocytes (cells responsible for skin pigment), Vitiligo is a pigmentation disorder that needs to be taken seriously!
The destruction of melanocytes is the reason white patches form on the victim’s skin (also what vitiligo treatment aims to fix), and can appear in various parts of the body.
Looking at the most recent cases of Vitiligo, white patches appearing on the mucous membrane (tissues inside the nose and mouth) and even retina (your eyeball’s inner layer) is not uncommon at all!
The short answer: A LOT of people!
Research studies have revealed that at least 1-2 percent of the world’s total population is affected by this skin pigmentation disorder.
In case you don’t want to do the math, that’s about 70 to 140 million people worldwide that suffer from Vitiligo. This skin disorder also knows no barriers. No matter what your age, sex, or race is, you can still become a victim.
In about 50% of all reported cases, the onset ensues between ages 10 to 30. The reported cases found at birth are very rare, and cases that start at old age (beyond 50) are just as few.
Furthermore, people whose families exhibit an increased occurrence of thyroid disease, or diabetes mellitus, are exposed to higher risks of developing this skin condition.
So… What Causes Vitiligo?
Unfortunately, the medical world is yet to pinpoint the exact cause of this condition. There are, however, a few suspects. Hypothesis based on neurotrophic (abnormal interaction between melanocytes and the nervous system); toxicity (substances resulting from melanin production that are toxic to melanocytes); and autoimmune factors have been on the forefront.
Although the cause for vitiligo is not clear, many think it is an autoimmune disorder. While “autoimmune” could conjure thoughts of lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, vitiligo does not pose the same type of danger. In essence, the body attacks its own melanocytes – the skin’s pigment cells – robbing patches of skin of both color and the protection of pigments; hence the areas affected are usually more susceptible to sun burns.
But what exactly causes this particular autoimmune event to happen?
Doctors don’t agree on one single culprit for this either, and opinions vary quite a bit.
For instance, your vitiligo could have been caused by any one (or a combination) of the following four things:
- Genetics – Thirty percent of people with vitiligo inherited it. This does not, however, account for the other seventy percent, nor does it mean the person with a genetic link to vitiligo is helpless to treat it.
- Other Immune Problems – A person who already has an autoimmune disease, such as Alopecia Areata (hair loss) or Addison’s disease could very well end up with vitiligo too. As stated in #1, however, this is not something your body considers a “pre-existing condition” that cannot be remedied.
- A Single Event – Many people with vitiligo do not inherit it, and they don’t have any other autoimmune diseases either. Perhaps this is why doctors think that something as seemingly insignificant as one sunburn can also trigger it.
- A Stressful Lifestyle – Stress causes many physical and emotional problems, and vitiligo has been linked to stress many times. If stress is the main cause, then continued stress could cause the white spots on the skin to spread even more.
Regardless of the cause, the effect is the same. A progressive…almost systematic obliteration of melanocytes; suspected to be carried out by cytotoxic T-Cells.
The Psychological And Societal Effects of Vitiligo
While it’s true that the primary symptom (appearance of white lesions that grow in size) isn’t detrimental or life-threatening, its adverse effects go beyond that. Social isolation; crumbling self-esteem; depression; strained personal and professional relationships are just some of the devastating consequences of the disease.
This is especially true in certain countries, where men, women, and children suffering from this skin disorder have to endure psychological and social whiplash.
Matter of fact, Indian Prime Minister Pt Jawaharlal Nehru ranked Vitiligo as the top three major medical problems in the country along with malaria and leprosy, diseases that are far more life-threatening!
Conventional Treatment Options For Vitiligo – And Their Cons
While dermatologists and skin care experts propose several options suitable for treating vitiligo, the side effects and high costs that these ‘fixes’ entail render them impractical. Let’s take a look at some of these treatment options:
- Topical Steroid Therapy – This uses corticosteroids, which is a group of drugs identical to hormones produced by the adrenal glands (cortisone being an example). Compared to other medically-recognized procedures, this treatment option is one of the simplest and safest. That said, it pales in comparison to Psoralen Photochemotherapy as far as effectiveness goes. Using corticosteroid creams can lead to side effects such as skin shrinkage and skin striae. And what about the cost? It’s a whopping $758 – $800 per case!
- Psoralen Photochemotherapy – Called PUVA therapy in medical circles, this form of treatment aims to bring back the normal color of the white patches. The catch, however, is that it’s very time-consuming and great care must be taken to avoid side effects that can be more severe than disease itself! In light of that, it’s almost mandatory to receive PUVA vitiligo treatment at your doctor’s clinic, which means added costs on top of the possible side effects!
- Depigmentation –Adopting a “If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em” approach, depigmentation involves fading the rest of your skin to match those areas that have been discolored. If you’re someone who’s suffering from Vitiligo on more than 50% of your body, this is what your doctor will most likely recommend…and that means spending $300 or more per session!
As if those disadvantages weren’t enough, here’s something to top it off: there’s no known cure or Vitiligo treatment that’s 100% guaranteed to get rid of Vitiligo!
What About Natural And Herbal-Based Vitiligo Cures?
Doctors and dermatologists are tight-lipped when asked about alternative Vitiligo treatment and cures. Running the risk of losing profit may not be the sole reason for the silence, but it’s definitely a major player.
That said, here’s some food for thought: there are studies and research done back in the 1980’s that have looked into alternative and natural cures, which showed HUGE potential. Matter of fact, these research papers have been published and referenced over and over again: http://psych.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=21857
Why the medical world has kept silent about these potentially ground-breaking discoveries is anybody’s guess.
Is There a Natural Cure?
There are natural vitiligo treatments that can help care for the affected areas and for your body as a whole.
If you want to learn more about natural cures for vitiligo and what the medical industry has been keeping away from you, the person with the answers is Michael Dawson; an independent nutritionist and biomedical researcher who’s been helping Vitiligo patients for many years now.
Michael has spent many years exposing the questionable tactics of the medical industry and showing people like you the alternative ways to cure this skin condition quickly and naturally. If you’re fed up of all the lies telling you the only vitiligo treatment available are expensive procedures, then I urge you to check out Michael Dawson’s new e-book titled “Natural Vitiligo Treatment System.”