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Vitiligo: Frequently Asked Questions


Q
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Question
What is Vitiligo?
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Answer

Vitiligo is a skin disorder where skin looses it color pigment called melanin. There may either be destruction of melanin or loss of melanin pigments.

Q
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Question
What is leucoderma?
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Answer

Leucoderma and vitiligo practically mean the same. Leuco= white and derma= skin. While patches on skin is called leucoderma. However, every case of leucoderma may not be vitiligo. Leucoderma is a term more commonly used in Asian countries.


More information on vitiligo is given on this link. http://www.askdrshah.com/app/vitiligo/vitiligo.aspx

Q
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Question
What are the causes of leucoderma (vitiligo)?
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Answer

The exact cause of vitiligo is not very clearly understood. However, there are several theories which are explained in detail on this page: http://www.askdrshah.com/app/vitiligo/vitiligo-causes.aspx

Q
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Question
No one in my family has vitiligo. How did I get it?
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Answer

One can get vitiligo even if no one in the family has or had vitiligo. Most patients of vitiligo have family history of one of the autoimmune diseases such as Vitiligo, diabetes, hypothyroidalopecia areata, cancer, etc., which is suggestive of genetic link. Many times patients may not be fully aware of the relevant family history.

Q
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Question
How serious is vitiligo?
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Answer

Vitiligo is NOT a serious disease. In fact, it is one of the most benign conditions that our body can have. I suggest my write up on this topic at http://www.askdrshah.com/app/vitiligo/vitiligo-innocent-disease.aspx

Q
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Question
Is vitiligo infectious? Can others touch me if I have vitiligo?
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Answer

Vitiligo does not spread by touch. It is not caused by any germs such as bacteria or virus. It is 100% safe to touch one who has vitiligo. It is a sign of ignorance if one avoids touching the person who has vitiligo.

Q
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Question
Should I stop eating some food articles if I have vitiligo?
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Answer

Some instructions about food have been described on this link: http://www.askdrshah.com/app/vitiligo/vitiligo-diet.aspx

Q
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Question
My child / I have vitiligo. How do we cope up with the stress?
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Answer

Please read a small write up on "How to cope up with vitiligo?" at http://www.askdrshah.com/app/vitiligo/vitiligo-coping.aspx

Q
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Question
I have vitiligo. I fear that it will spread. What are the chances of spread?
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Answer

It is not possible to predict if one's vitiligo would spread. The experience shows that there are some criteria which make on prone to extensive vitiligo. Some to the factors which increase the chances of spread, though it is not a rule, are:

1. Strong family history of vitiligo
2. Appearance of vitiligo spots on both sides (bilateral) of the body, including finger tips, toes, and lips. 
3. Associated with hypothyroid (under active thyroid) or diabetes.

Q
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Question
I also have Under active thyroid (hypothyroid) with vitiligo. However, my thyroid is well controlled with medicine. How would it help my vitiligo?
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Answer

Controlled Under Active Thyroid will help controlling your vitiligo. However, it has been observed that even if your thyroid levels are normal, somehow, you still are at higher risk of having spread of vitiligo.

Q
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Question
Is sun exposure harmful on the vitiligo spots?
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Answer

Exposure of vitiligo spots to the rising sun and the setting sun is useful to vitiligo spots. The gentle sunlight is useful in vitiligo and helps for natural re-pigmentation.

Due to lack of melanin, the patches of vitiligo on skin have no natural protection against the sun's rays. Therefore, the most important reason for protecting your skin is to prevent sunburn and cancer of skin. Exposure to sun is not likely to increase vitiligo. However, the sun exposure might tan the skin making the vitiligo spot look more prominent.

Exposure to the harsh sunlight should be avoided, and if the person experiences sunburn or discomfort, then patient should use sun block creams, or a cap, or full clothes, or use an umbrella.

Q
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Question
What is the conventional treatment for vitiligo?
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Answer

The conventional treatment comprises of use of

1. Corticosteroids (local and oral)

2. Psoralen

3. Immunosuppressants such as Cortisone, Tacros.

4. Phototherapy

5. Skin grafting and cosmetic surgery, etc. 

Q
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Question
I have been prescribed cortisone (cortisone, steroids) which has helped, but I am getting more spots on my body.
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Answer

It is a common experience of most clinicians that corticosteroids in the form of cream, oral or injections, may help the patient, initially; but it tends to lead to increase in the vitiligo spots on stopping it. Also, steroids have various adverse effects. You need to understand from your doctor the scope and limitation of the use of cortisone before you opt for it. Please check these two links: 1. Cortisone is no more effective as a long term treatment for Vitiligo. 2. Adverse effects of Cortisone

Q
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Question
What are the adverse effects of Cortisone?
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Answer

Please check these two links: 1. Cortisone is no more effective as a long term treatment for Vitiligo. 2. Adverse effects of Cortisone

Homeopathic treatment:

Q
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Question
What is homeopathy?
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Answer

Homeopathy is an alternative medicine originated in Germany. Please click this for more information.What is Homeopathy

Q
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Question
How does homeopathy treat vitiligo?
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Answer

The homeopathic treatment treats vitiligo by possibly regulating the immune mechanism.
     > Controlling the spread of Vitiligo by attempting to correct the immune system
     > Enhancing the natural melanocyte formation (melanogenesis)
Please read more at http://www.askdrshah.com/app/vitiligo/treatment.aspx

Q
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Question
What is the strength and limitation of homeopathic treatment for the treatment of vitiligo?
Q
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Question
If I am on the conventional medicines such as cortisone (steroids), can I start with homeopathy?
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Answer

Yes

Q
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Question
Do I need to stop the conventional medicines if I have to start with homeopathy?
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Answer

No. Initially, you have to continue both the medicines simultaneously. Once your vitiligo improves, you have to reduce the dose of the conventional medicines.

Q
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Question
Are there side effects of homeopathic medicines?
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Answer

There are no bad adverse effects.

Q
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Question
Do they interact with the conventional medicines?
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Answer

No. Homeopathic medicines can be safely taken with the conventional medicines.

Q
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Question
When do I start seeing improvement after starting homeopathy medicine?
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Answer

Most patients start observing improvement within about six to eight weeks. Those who are on steroids may take time.

Q
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Question
If I am on some other medications such as drugs for diabetes, hypertension, etc.; do I have to stop them while on homeopathy?
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Answer

No. You can continue all other medicines for other diseases if you start with homeopathy. Homeopathy does not adversely interact with the conventional medicines.

Q
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Question
What are homeopathic medicines prepared from?
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Answer

The homeopathic medicines are largely sources from minerals, herbs, chemicals, etc. More information available at http://www.askdrshah.com/app/vitiligo

Q
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Question
I am about to get married. Should I inform my would be husband/wife about my vitiligo?
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Answer

Actually, this is a social question and not a medical question. It is entirely your choice to to inform your would be life partner with whom you are going to share whole of your life, that you have vitiligo.

It may be remembered that if you do not inform about your vitiligo, you will have a sense of guilt; as marriage is based on the foundation of trust. However, it is not within our scope to make any suggestion.

Q
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Question
I have received an offer for marriage alliance of a boy/girl who has vitiligo. Should I go ahead with the marriage with this person?
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Answer

As described above, it is a social question rather than a medical. However, medically speaking, one has to understand that vitiligo is not a threat to health. It not a contagious disorder; it does not spread by touch. It has more of cosmetic angle. It is a paradox that people can accept their future life partners having disease like asthma, diabetes, migraine, allergies, etc. but not a benign condition such as vitiligo!

Q
fjrigjwwe9r1Faq:Question
Do homeopathic medicines contain steroids (cortisone)?