Vitiligo Home Remedies
There are remedies you can use at home to treat your vitiligo patches and arrest its spread especially early on and before visiting your dermatologist. Read on to find out the best home remedies for treating vitiligo.
by Brad Chase
Vitiligo is a skin pigmentation disorder that results when the melanocytes are destroyed.
It affects about 1% of the population and affects both sexes and all races equally. Because vitiligo changes the appearance of the skin, it may cause emotional distress in the sufferer. Besides changing the skin color to white, vitiligo has no other symptoms. It is not infectious or caused by infectious agents.
In fact, all aspects of the skin except the color remain the same in both vitiligo and normal, pigmented skin.
The first wave of vitiligo usually affects the face, hands and wrists. These white spots may also concentrate around the various orifices of the body including the eyes, nostrils, lips, navel, areolar and genitals.
There is no way to know whether vitiligo spots will remain localized or spread to other parts of the body. However, early treatment can help arrest the progression of the disease.
Before visiting your dermatologist’s office for consultation and treatment, there are a number of ways you may use to treat mild, localized or slowly spreading vitiligo. These ways may include changes in lifestyle and diets, nutritional supplements, herbal extracts and even OTC (over-the-counter) vitiligo products.
Quite a number of vitiligo patients succeed in treating their condition with home remedies.
However, to choose the most appropriate home remedies to use, you need to know the causes of vitiligo.
There are different theories regarding the cause of vitiligo although everyone agrees that root cause is the progressive destruction of melanocytes (melanocytes are special skin cells that produce melanin, the skin pigment).
The main theories are discussed below.
It is possible that the body sees melanocytes as foreign bodies and in a bid to get rid of them, it sends cells of the immune system to destroy them.
There are evidences that this is indeed the case at least for some vitiligo patients. For example, vitiligo sometimes occurs in the company of other autoimmune disorders such as diabetes mellitus and alopecia areata (balding).
In addition, melanocyte-specific antibodies and high levels of freely circulating CD8+ T cells have been reported in vitiligo patients.
When these immune cells attack melanocytes, they break them down and then the production of melanin falls. Such autoimmune attack can cause the rapid depigmentation of the skin and a brisk spread of vitiligo spots all over the body.
It is also possible that some melanocytes are defective. Such intrinsic defects may reduce the lifespan of such melanocytes or cause reduced melanogenesis (the production of melanin).
Therefore, defective melanocytes may be duds or be inefficient in fulfilling their chief role of producing melanin. Such intrinsic defect may be structural or functional. Both defects can be traced back to genetic mutations or error in the production of cellular parts of the melanocytes.
Harmful free radicals and reactive oxygen species such as hydrogen peroxide are released in the skin from cellular metabolism. These compounds may damage the skin and, they are normally removed by antioxidants.
However, when they persists in the skin, they place increasing oxidative stress on skin cells.
Reactive oxygen species can break down melanocytes and reduce their population. When vitiligo is caused by oxidative stress in the skin, the presence of oxidized compounds can be detected by special florescent lamps and low levels of antioxidant skin enzymes such as catalase.
A related cause of vitiligo is toxic chemicals. Phenolic compounds found in household and industrial solvents have been implicated as a causative agent of vitiligo.
These are oxidizing agents that can bleach the skin. Prolong exposure may actually reduce melanocyte population in the areas of the skin in direct contact with such chemicals.
Vitiligo can sometimes occur soon after nerve damage and in the same area where the damage occurs.
The changes in the neurochemicals released at the nerve endings of the damaged neurons are believed to be the cause of vitiligo. The neurochemicals produced may destroy the melanocytes found around the site of damage and cause localized vitiligo spots.
Genes play big roles in every aspect of living systems. Therefore, genes can be responsible for some of the factors discussed above.
Genetic mutations may produce defective melanocytes, make melanocytes more susceptible to autoimmune attack or oxidative stress.
Certain mutations may increase or reduce the risk of developing vitiligo. For example, alleles of the Apa-I gene are known to determine the extent of individual predisposition to vitiligo.
Generally, natural remedies with antioxidant and/or immunomodulatory properties are used for treating vitiligo. These address the oxidative stress and autoimmune causes of vitiligo.
Cosmetic concealers and sunscreen products are not remedies for vitiligo. They do not treat the skin disorder. Rather, they hide vitiligo spots by smoothing out the contrast between the white spots and normal, pigmented skin surrounding them.
Concealers are only useful if vitiligo spots are small and few and preferably localized.
Makeup products can help camouflage vitiligo patches. Also cover creams and self-tanning lotions are used. The tricky part of camouflaging vitiligo spots is finding the product that imparts the right color and matches perfectly with your normal skin color.
You may make your own camouflage lotion at home especially if you cannot find a product with matching colors. All you need are rubbing alcohol and food colorants. By experimenting with ratio, you can find the perfect blend to camouflage your vitiligo spots.
Sunscreens or sunblocks, on the other hand, do not conceal vitiligo patches. Rather, they stop the growing contrast between the white vitiligo patches and normal, pigmented skin.
Sunscreens achieve this by preventing the tanning of normal, pigmented skin and sunburn in exposed vitiligo patches.
Some experts consider vitiligo as the outward expression of nutritional deficiencies.
True to this theory, different studies have found that vitiligo patients have lower levels of certain vitamins and minerals when compared to people without vitiligo.
Different studies have found that vitiligo patients are usually deficient in the B vitamins including vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid. Usually low levels of these vitamins are also associated with abnormally high levels of a compound called homocysteine.
Homocysteine produces a long list of harmful effects in the body but it especially can yield harmful free radicals in metabolic reactions.
Therefore, supplementation with vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid can help stop vitiligo by reducing oxidative stress on the skin.
Other vitamins that are helpful in vitiligo treatment include the antioxidant vitamins such as vitamins A and C.
Vitamin D has also been proven to have anti-vitiligo effect through a number of properties. In fact, vitamin D analogs are some of the most effective topical vitiligo products prescribed.
Mineral deficiencies play a smaller role in the progression of vitiligo but copper has been suggested to be effective in the treatment of vitiligo.
Alpha lipoic acid is also another antioxidant supplement that has been shown in multiple studies to be quite effective in the treatment of vitiligo.
Ginkgo biloba is perhaps the most studied herb used in the treatment of vitiligo.
The leaf extract which contains antioxidant and immunomodulatory phytochemicals has been shown to improve vitiligo symptoms both when used alone and when used with other vitiligo treatments.
Khella or Amni visnaga is also used in the treatment of vitiligo. In fact, the ancient Egyptians recorded its use for this purpose. The flower extract of khella contains khellin, a potent diuretic but it is the psoralen content that is the most useful in vitiligo treatment.
This phytochemical is the same psoralen used in PUVA vitiligo therapy in combination with ultraviolet A radiation.
This closely follows the use of psoralen-containing plants such as Khella in traditional medicine. After taking the extracts, patients are usually advised to get some sunlight exposure.
Psoralen is a coumarin. It is a photosensitizing compound which helps darken the skin after exposure to ultraviolet irradiation.
Some other plants containing psoralen are also used in the treatment of vitiligo. These include, parsnip, celery, carrot and fennel.
Other herbal extracts used in the treatment of vitiligo include ginger juice, black cumin, turmeric, sesame seed, duckweed, coconut oil and papaya.
While there are different formulas for combining some of these natural remedies at home, you may decide to take an OTC vitiligo supplement formulated with proven natural vitiligo remedies.
A good example of such is callumae.
Callumae contains the vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid; the amino acid, L-phenylalanine (a precursor for tyrosine which is then used to produce melanin); alpha lipoic acid; and herbal extracts of Ginkgo biloba, Amni visnaga and Picrorhiza kurroa.
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Callumae is a Vitiligo Remedy designed to help get rid of white spots on your skin. Use in conjuction with light therapy (or natural sun light) to help get the most repigmentation to your skin.