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Vitiligo

Vitiligo (vit-ill-EYE-go) is a pigmentation disorder in which melanocytes (the cells that make pigment) in the skin, the mucous membranes (tissues that line the inside of the mouth and nose and genital and rectal areas), and the retina (inner layer of the eyeball) are destroyed. As a result, white patches of skin appear on different parts of the body. The hair that grows in areas affected by Vitiligo usually turns white. There is no oil, herb, vitamin or moisturizer that has any proven beneficial result for Vitiligo. Psoralen, or psoralene, can increase the skin's natural reaction to sunlight.

"Our findings confirmed that narrow-band UVB therapy is a useful and well-tolerated treatment option for patients with vitiligo," says Dr. Lim of the American Academy of Dermatology.

"Since the first report describing narrowband UVB as a treatment for vitiligo by Westerhof and colleagues in 1997, several other studies have demonstrated its efficacy and safety. Narrowband UVB has become my treatment of choice for patients with moderate to severe vitiligo.." says Dr. Grimes at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology

   
Vitiligo. Vitiligo after UVB narrow band 311 phototherapy.

vitiligo before
UVB phototherapy

vitiligo after
UVB phototherapy

   

Vitiligo is a relatively common skin condition which can cause extreme distress to sufferers because of its obviously unusual appearance and affects at least 1-2% of the population or 1-2 in every 100 people in nearly every country in the world. It affects people of both sexes equally, and it affects all races. It can begin at any age; however, about fifty percent of people with Vitiligo develop it before the age of twenty five. You cannot catch Vitiligo. It is not infectious or contagious. Currently, there is no absolute cure for Vitiligo but there are several treatments.

Vitiligo, like psoriasis, is thought to be hereditary. Even if your immediate parents or grandparents do not have Vitiligo, they may have had another genetic issue that is loosely associated with Vitiligo, such as thyroid problems or diabetes etc.

The actual cause of Vitiligo is not known, but doctors and researchers have several different theories. One theory is that people develop antibodies that destroy the melanocytes in their own bodies. Another theory is that melanocytes destroy themselves. Finally, some people have reported that a single event such as sunburn or emotional distress triggered Vitiligo; however, these events have not been scientifically proven to cause Vitiligo.

 

Vitiligo treatments and cures

The treatment options for Vitiligo have some similarities with psoriasis. Steroids can be used to stimulate the skin to produce the missing or deficient melanocytes and thus darkening the white skin patches. Steroids have many dangerous side effects and are typically only a temporary treatment. Stop using the steroids and the Vitiligo usually returns soon after. There is a process known as "depigmentation" that is really a backwards treatment. It involves using steroids or other agents to lighten your normal skin to match the colour of your Vitiligo affected skin. Obviously this could be more embarrassing than the Vitiligo by its self. There are a range of cosmetic options to hide or mask the white patches but this only offers a psychological solution and is only very temporary. In extreme cases surgery can be used to graft skin from non-affected areas.

UV phototherapy is widely recognised as a treatment of Vitiligo. UV is responsible for stimulating your skin to produce pigmentation, or a sun tan with minimal side effects The effectiveness of UV treatment varies for each Vitiligo sufferer. Caution should be taken when using UV phototherapy to treat Vitiligo. As Vitiligo is an absence of skin pigmentation the white skin affected by Vitiligo is very susceptible to sun burn, but by the same nature generally responds well to UV phototherapy treatment.

 

What about vitamins?

You may have seen web pages advertising vitamin cures and treatments for Vitiligo, these have been proven time and time again to have little or no effect on Vitiligo. Vitiligo is NOT caused by a vitamin or diet deficiency; therefore vitamins can be no benefit at all. Vitamins can only benefit you if you have a deficiency. Neither Vitiligo, Acne, Dermatitis or psoriasis are caused by any deficiency in your diet. Vitiligo is not caused by a toxin that can be removed from your system by a vitamin or other magic health pill. No oil or herb rubbed into your skin will have any lasting effect on Vitiligo, its simply impossible. If it was, the product would be available from every doctor, pharmacist and hospital in the world.

 

Brief vitiligo overview

Vitiligo is a skin condition in which there is loss of pigment from areas of skin resulting in irregular white patches with normal skin texture.

 

Vitiligo Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Vitiligo appears to be an acquired condition and may appear at any age. There is an increased incidence in some families. Vitiligo is more noticeable in darker skinned people because of the contrast.

The cause of vitiligo is unknown, but autoimmunity may be a factor. This condition affects about 1% of the U.S. population.

Lesions appear as flat depigmented areas with a darker boarder. The edges are sharply defined but irregular. Frequently affected areas are the face, elbows and knees, hands and feet, and genitalia

 

Vitiligo Symptoms & Signs

  • Family history of vitiligo
  • Sudden or gradual onset of flat normally textured areas of skin with complete pigment loss

Vitiligo Diagnosis & Tests
Examination is usually sufficient to confirm the diagnosis. In some cases, a skin biopsy may be needed to rule out other causes of pigment loss.

 

Vitiligo Treatment

Vitiligo is difficult to treat. Early treatment options include the following:

  • Exposure to intense ultraviolet light, such as narrow-band UVB therapy
  • Oral medications, such as Trisoralen (trimethylpsoralen)
  • Topical medications
  • Repigmenting agents such as Oxsoralen (methoxsalen)
  • Immunosuppressants such as Elidel (pimecrolimus) and Protopic (tacrolimus)
  • Corticosteroid creams

Skin may be grafted, or removed from normal areas and placed into areas of pigment loss. In the future, skin pigment cells may be grown in the laboratory and used to treat areas of vitiligo.

 

Vitiligo Prognosis (Expectations)

The course of vitiligo varies. Some areas may repigment, but other new areas may appear. Depigmentation may be progressive.

Vitiligo Complications:
Depigmented areas are more likely to sunburn or develop certain skin cancers. Vitiligo is associated with three systemic diseases:

  • 1. pernicious anemia
  • 2. hyperthyroidism
  • 3. Addison's disease.

Source: About Health


Narrow Band UVB phototherapy has consistently achieved over 90% repigmentation within a year for most patients. Neighbouring pigment cells will produce new pigment into the Vitiligo patches providing the melanocytes still exist in the adjoining areas of skin.

 

Products for the treatment of Vitiligo

We offer a variety of products for treatment of Vitiligo. Please click here to see all products or here for the Dermaray UV for spot treatment of Vitiligo.

 

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psoriasis

Psoriasis is a common skin disease that causes raised red skin with thick silvery scales.

vitiligo

Vitiligo is a disorder in which white patches of skin appear on the body

hair loss

Hair loss usually develops gradually and may be patchy or diffuse

acne

Acne is a disorder of the hair follicles and sebaceous oil glands that leads to skin infections

dermatitis

Inflammation of the skin, often a rash, swelling, pain, itching, cracking. Can be caused by an irritant or allergen

frequent questions

 
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