Vitiligo

  • Treatment

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

    • Phototherapy, a medical procedure in which your skin is carefully exposed to ultraviolet light. Phototherapy may be given alone, or after you take a drug that makes your skin sensitive to light. A dermatologist performs this treatment.
    • Medicines applied to the skin, such as:
      • Corticosteroid creams or ointments
      • Immunosuppressant creams or ointments, such as pimecrolimus (Elidel) and tacrolimus (Protopic)
      • Topical drugs such as methoxsalen (Oxsoralen)

    Skin may be moved (grafted) from normally pigmented areas and placed onto areas where there is pigment loss.

    Several cover-up makeups or skin dyes can mask vitiligo. Ask your health care provider for the names of these products.

    In extreme cases when most of the body is affected, the remaining skin that still has pigment may be depigmented. This is a permanent change that is used as a last resort.

    It is important to remember that skin without pigment is at greater risk for sun damage. Be sure to apply a broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB), high-SPF sunscreen or sunblock and use appropriate safeguards against sun exposure.


    Support Groups

    Expectations (prognosis)

    The course of vitiligo varies and is unpredictable. Some areas may regain normal pigment (coloring), but other new areas of pigment loss may appear. Skin that is repigmented may be slightly lighter or darker than the surrounding skin. Pigment loss may get worse over time.


    Complications

    Depigmented areas are more likely to sunburn and develop certain skin cancers.


    Calling your health care provider

    Call for an appointment with your health care provider if areas of your skin lose their coloring for no reason (for example, there was no injury to the skin).