If you notice patches of lightening skin, you may have vitiligo. While not generally a threat to your health, vitiligo can be treated for cosmetic purposes. Silver Falls Dermatology providers offer effective vitiligo treatment in our many locations across Oregon and Washington.
What is Vitiligo?
Vitiligo is a condition which causes the loss of pigmentation within the skin or hair. These patches of pigmentation loss typically grow over time and may occur on only one side or area of the body or symmetrically throughout the body. Vitiligo does not generally cause symptoms outside of the loss of pigmentation. However, this appearance may result in self-consciousness or stress for patients.
What Causes Vitiligo?
Vitiligo occurs when pigment-producing skin cells, or melanocytes, stop functioning properly or die. This results in patches of skin or hair that are white or lighter in color. The underlying cause for this melanocyte dysfunction or death is not clear. It may be caused by several factors, including:
- Immune system disorder
- Trigger events including severe skin trauma or burn
Vitiligo Treatment Options
Vitiligo treatment is not typically necessary for your skin’s health, but many choose to treat their vitiligo for cosmetic reasons. Vitiligo can cause an increased risk for sunburn, hearing loss or eye issues, so patients should always wear SPF and may require treatment from an audiologist or ophthalmologist in addition to their dermatologic care.
Medications and treatments are available to help create an even skin tone or, in some cases, restore pigment. For some patients, corticosteroids can help reduce inflammation and restore pigmentation in early stages. Calcineurin inhibitor ointments, which affect the immune system, may also help to slow vitiligo progression.
Laser and light treatments may also be effective. Options include phototherapy, which has been shown to stop or slow the progression of vitiligo and is commonly paired with topical treatments.
XTRAC laser therapy can also be used to restore pigmentation. This painless treatment is designed to treat any area of the body and restore large patches of pigmentation loss.