In your eyes, hair and skin is a pigment called “melanin.” This pigment is responsible for whatever color these three areas appear. Your body uses cells called “melanocytes” to create melanin. There is an autoimmune disease that targets these pigment-making cells and destroys them or prevents them from making melanin. That disease is called “vitiligo.”
Without pigment in the areas where vitiligo strikes, you will see white patches of skin. Their shape will be quite strange and irregular. These colorless patches most often hit the feet, arms, hands, face and lips. Less commonly, they can appear on your mouth, eyes, nose and genitals. Even the hair growing in the area can turn bleached.
For the millions of U.S. adults with vitiligo, these patches of skin start small and grow larger over time. It isn’t painful or dangerous; instead, vitiligo takes a stressful and emotional toll. Its cause isn’t known, although for some people a faulty immune system plays some role. In autoimmune diseases, the body’s own immune cells mistakenly attack healthy tissues — just as psoriasis does. Genetics may also play a role, as might sunburn or emotional distress.
Vitiligo has no known cure. The main idea is to slow down the rate of pigment loss and see if you can return color to the skin. Conventional medicine uses ultraviolet light and drugs often used to treat psoriasis. The other principal method is to use corticosteroids directly on the skin. Besides these, there are surgical options (skin grafts) and experimental treatments.
Of course, Doctors Health Press focuses on the natural options at hand. So let’s got through some natural remedies for vitiligo:
- Khellin: From the fruit of the khella plant, this is your best option. It acts in the same way a standard drug for vitiligo works. Khellin is sometimes used along with ultraviolet therapy to bring color back to the white patches. It is found in both cream and supplement forms.
- L-Phenlyalanine: This is an amino acid that has the potential to help bring back color to patchy areas. It is also combined with the common ultraviolet therapy. Doses are usually 100 mg to 200 mg a day. Ginkgo: The ancient and famous herbal supplement has been proven to help slow the spread of vitiligo.
- Vitamins: People with low levels of folate and vitamin B12 are at higher risk of vitiligo. The disease is also common in people with anemia (where B12 is not well absorbed). This doesn’t mean taking supplements will clear it up, but researchers do believe they can improve color.
- Picrorhiza: This little-known Ayurvedic herb may make the drug methoxsalen more effective.
- Lifestyle modifications: If you have vitiligo, sunscreen is very important, even on cloudy days. It also makes you tan less in the summer, which will make the white patches less noticeable, as the rest of your skin won’t be as dark. Secondly, you can hide the patches by using cosmetics that help blend them into the rest of your skin. You might have to experiment for a bit.