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Vitiligo Treatment in the Florida Keys

man with vitiligo on his hand

What is the main cause of vitiligo?

Vitiligo is a skin disease that results in a loss of skin pigmentation in patches of the skin. In people who do not suffer from vitiligo, the skin is lined with melanin–a part of your body that creates the color of your skin and hair. For these people, skin tone is generally even across the body. However, for those who suffer from vitiligo, the melanin is attacked by the immune system, causing them to malfunction or die in certain areas of the skin. This causes the difference in tone and appearance on those parts of the body where melanin is not functioning as it normally would.

Vitiligo, sometimes called generalized vitiligo, can affect any part of the body, including inside the mouth and affects people with every skin type. Those with naturally light skin may have less noticeable vitiligo than those with darker skin. While vitiligo is not a life-threatening disease, it can have significant effects on a person’s overall well-being, including lowering self-esteem or increasing stress levels.

What are the symptoms of vitiligo?

If you notice any of the below symptoms of vitiligo, reach out to one of our skin specialists at Pruett Dermatology:

  • Loss of skin color
  • Patches of lighter skin
  • Lighter skin inside your mouth
  • Changes in eye color

Can vitiligo be caused by stress?

It is thought that vitiligo may be affected by a person’s levels of stress. Both physical and emotional stress have been known to trigger vitiligo and may affect the overall severity of the condition.

How do you stop vitiligo from spreading?

Many people suffering from vitiligo are looking for ways to adapt their lifestyle and/or diet to help prevent vitiligo from spreading to larger areas. While there are currently no proven methods, some people have reported success with the following home remedies and diet recommendations for vitiligo:

  • Lemon and sweet basil mixtures
  • Turmeric and mustard oil mixtures
  • Bananas
  • Figs
  • Dates
  • Root vegetables
  • Leafy greens
  • Apples
  • Vitamins

The best way to avoid vitiligo from spreading is by taking the advice of your dermatologist. He or she can analyze your particular skin condition and your past medical history in order to offer you a treatment option that is customized to your needs.

How fast does vitiligo spread?

Depending on the kind of vitiligo you have, the level of spreading and areas that are affected by vitiligo will vary. For example, one type of vitiligo called segmental vitiligo is known for staying in one area of the body and not spreading. On the other hand, another type of vitiligo called nonsegmental vitiligo can spread throughout the body. Usually, when nonsegmental vitiligo spreads, it is a slow progression that could take several years to cover a new part of the body. In some cases, though, nonsegmental vitiligo can spread more quickly.

What foods should I avoid if I have vitiligo?

If you know you have vitiligo, there is some anecdotal evidence that supports cutting out certain foods in order to avoid vitiligo spreading. While everyone’s skin is unique and different, some of the reported foods to avoid include:

  • Blueberries
  • Citrus fruits
  • Fish
  • Cheese curds
  • Fruit juices
  • Gooseberries
  • Grapes
  • Coffee
  • Alcohol

Is sun good for vitiligo?

People with vitiligo may have an increased risk of sunburning or developing skin cancer. So, if you have been diagnosed with vitiligo, make sure you check with your dermatologist about exposing the skin to sunlight. Your doctor may recommend a cream or sunblock to help protect your skin from the sun’s rays.

Can vitiligo cause skin cancer?

Many of our patients suffering from vitiligo want to know more about the link between vitiligo and skin cancer. Because melanin serves as an outer protective layer for the skin, it can block some of the damaging UV rays produced by the sun. Many believe that for this reason, those with vitiligo lack this protection and are more at risk of skin cancer. However, research has shown that there is no proof of an increased risk of skin cancer in people with vitiligo.

As with all patients of any skin type, it’s important to visit a dermatologist for your regular skin cancer screenings. If you notice any changes in your skin tone or changes in mole color or shape, consult with your dermatologist as soon as possible, as these could be early signs of skin cancer.

Is vitiligo genetic or hereditary?

Currently, there is no research to support that vitiligo is hereditary. However, many who suffer from the condition also have family members with the same condition. This suggests that vitiligo may run in families or be caused by a genetic predisposition to the autoimmune system.

What is the best treatment for vitiligo?

There are numerous vitiligo treatments available at Pruett Dermatology in Florida for those who are seeking more even skin tone. While these treatments have proven successful in patients, the exact results will vary from person to person. Some of the possible treatment options for vitiligo include:

  • Prescription topical medications to control skin inflammation and help even out tone (especially if vitiligo is caught early on)
  • Prescription ointments that can help restore pigment in the face and neck (especially for those with only small patches of lightened skin)
  • Light therapy for vitiligo to return color to the lighter areas of skin affected by vitiligo
  • Depigmentation for vitiligo, which may be able to gradually lighted other areas of the skin to match those affected by vitiligo (especially for those with widespread vitiligo)
  • Surgical skin grafting to replace skin affected by vitiligo with small sections of normal skin from other areas of the body
  • Vitiligo tattooing, also known as micropigmentation, can help even out skin tones by tattooing pigment into the skin

If you are experiencing symptoms of vitiligo, visit Pruett Dermatology. Dr. Pruett is an experienced, board-certified skin doctor and dermatologic surgeon who has been serving the Florida Keys community for over 25 years. Pruett Dermatology offers vitiligo treatment and cares for every individual patient with a personal touch. Visit our warm and welcoming office today or schedule an appointment by calling 305.664.8828 or fill out the form on this page.

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