While many skin conditions are minimal enough that they can be concealed or covered, vitiligo is one that tends to interfere with life a little bit more. Vitiligo symptoms are often more noticeable and can cause those who have this condition to feel self conscious. Fortunately, there are options. We specialize in vitiligo treatment -- read on to find out more.
Vitiligo is a skin condition affecting the natural pigmentation. Vitiligo symptoms include the appearance of white spots, which could be in a small, localized area, or spread across the body. These spots are not patchy or raised -- they are as smooth as the surrounding skin, but lacking the same color.
While vitiligo symptoms can be troubling, it’s important to remember that this skin condition is not contagious or life-threatening. Vitiligo causes include the dying of cells that produce melanin, which gives both skin and hair their pigment. Sometimes vitiligo stays localized and other times it spreads. The condition can affect people of all skin types and colors.
If you suspect that you might have vitiligo, the first thing to do is see a dermatologist. This specialist can perform the necessary clinical examination, using a blue light if needed or performing a biopsy. Once the dermatologist performs this thorough skin examination and diagnoses your specific type of condition, you can discuss vitiligo treatment options.
Fortunately, advances in technology mean there are several options, although the condition itself can’t be fully cured. Instead, vitiligo treatment options focus on restoring the skin’s pigment, resulting in a restoration of natural skin color.
One of the most popular and highly effective methods for treating vitiligo symptoms is Narrowband UVB Light Therapy. This treatment slows overactive skin cell growth through UVB light exposure. Vanguard Dermatology has performed this treatment on thousands of patients with vitiligo. Our UVB narrowband lamps do not require photo-sensitizing agents.
Narrowband UVB light therapy is very safe and while results are not guaranteed, many patients notice repigmentation with repetitive treatments. The process may require multiple visits to the dermatologist’s office per week for a period of many months, so it’s important to be patient while waiting for the repigmentation process to occur naturally.
The XTRAC [308 nm] excimer laser is another highly effective vitiligo treatment. Using a targeted beam of UVB light to focus on the affected area, XTRAC can reduce vitiligo depigmented patches. The treatment only takes about 5 to 10 minutes but again, will require multiple sessions over an extended period of time.
Vanguard Dermatology has been using the XTRAC laser to treat patients with vitiligo for years. This particular type of vitiligo treatment is highly effective and is sometimes used in conjunction with narrowband UVB light therapy, or as a follow up procedure. However, the excimer laser is designed to treat small areas of the skin with a narrow laser beam, so this option is not typically used on anyone with more extensive or widespread vitiligo.
If UVB light therapy or XTRAC laser won’t work for your particular case of vitiligo, there are other options. Prescription creams, as well as corticosteroid injections, can minimize vitiligo and decrease inflammation. Topical immunosuppressive medications like pimecrolimus or tacrolimus can be prescribed if light or laser therapy can’t be utilized.
Is your vitiligo interfering with your quality of life? Make an appointment with Vanguard Dermatology, a team of board-certified dermatology experts serving the greater New York City area. We can talk through your treatment options and find the best route for you to get your confidence back.