As per an estimate, about 1.5% of people in the world are affected by Vitiligo.
Vitiligo (leucoderma) is a distressing skin condition marked by gradual loss of melanocytes, the cells responsible for producing melanin pigment in skin layers which results in irregular white patches.
The only physical discomfort associated with Vitiligo is the intolerance to sunlight, but it applies only when a large area of skin is exposed directly to sunlight. Vitiligo is an otherwise benign skin condition that causes no physical harm.
However, Vitiligo causes great psychological stress and embarrassment to the patient which can be more painful than any physical pain. The condition thus, besides being a medical problem, also becomes a social stigma
Vitiligo can occur at any age, in either sex and on any part of the body. It is, however, more common in women than men. The most commonly affected areas are the hands, neck, back and wrist in that order.
Symptoms of vitiligo:
Vitiligo usually starts with a small white spot and later develops into patches. These patches are pale in the beginning but became darker as time passes due increase in loss of melanin. As the spots enlarge, they merge into one another and, in the course of time, form a broad patch. In some cases, most of the skin of the body can be covered with white patches.
The spread of Vitiligo is usually slow and progressive. The spots generally tend to grow symmetrically on both the sides of the body however in some cases, vitiligo spreads randomly all over the body.
Vitiligo can vary in size, shape, intensity of the loss of color and in the profile of their distribution. Some times Vitiligo becomes a chronic skin condition while in other cases it may even regress on its own.
This skin condition requires treatment by a dermatologist.
Causes of vitiligo:
The exact causes for destruction of melanocytes which results in vitiligo is unknown.
Many false beliefs are prevalent about the reason for vitiligo. For one, it is not caused by eating fish and drinking milk at the same time.Similarly attributing vitiligo to eating other combinations of food such as pumpkin and milk, onion and milk etc. are incorrect.
Vitiligo is also not caused by any germs. Part of the possible reason for Vitiligo includes:
Autoimmune disorder: Evidences strongly associateVitiligo with autoimmune component. People with vitiligo develop antibodies that directly destroy melanocytes. Furthermore, vitiligo is often associated with other autoimmune diseases such as thyroid disorders, suggesting the existence of common mechanisms.
Hereditary factors: Genes that play a role in the immune response are one of the established causative factor for vitiligo. Round 30 percent of patients have a hereditary history of vitiligo.
Accumulation of toxic radicals: Several studies suggest that, melanocytes are destroyed in those people whose body accumulate many toxic radicals. This abnormal accumulation of radicals result in destruction of melanocytes.
Nervous secretion: Researchers have also collected evidences that destruction on melanocytes could be related to the release of toxic chemicals from nerve endings in the affected areas.
Nutritional deficiencies: Many naturopaths believe that vitiligo may be caused by nutritional deficiencies caused by a intake of faulty diet comprising of denatured Foods like white flour, white sugar and tinned products which are low in nutrients.
Other triggers: Researchers also suggest other external triggers like injury to skin, sunburn, mental distress and physical Illness as possible causes of vitiligo.
Is Vitiligo contagious?
Vitiligo is not contagious. It does not spread by contact, food or otherwise. It is also not a precancerous condition.
Natural Remedies for Vitiligo Treatment
Caveat: Vitiligo is characterized by an overly sensitive skin. Any remedies suggested here must be tried on small patches to test for possible skin allergies and infection. A full-fledged application must only be tried after you have tested these against your skin allergies and reactions.
- I) Say no to stress: Stress (physical or emotional) has been found to be the prime trigger of genealogical disturbances that result in and promote the growth of vitiligo. Indulge in creative pursuits to stay clear of emotional stress. Lifestyle changes to incorporate practices like meditation, yoga and other relaxation exercises is the best thing you can do arrest the growth of vitiligo.
- II) Psoralea seeds: seeds soaked in the juice of ginger or tamarind seeds (to be replaced daily) for three days is perhaps the most time tested and best home remedy for vitiligo. Psoralea seeds essentially replicate the effect of the sun tanning and is effective in restoration of skin color. After three days of soaking, the seeds should be rubbed with hands to remove their shell and should be dried in shade before being grounded into a powder. One gram of this powder should be taken daily with fresh milk for 40 days without interruption. The ground seeds should also be applied on the affected areas.
Psorela seeds are also used as an ingredient in ultraviolet phototherapy, the most common treatment of vitiligo.
Preferably, Psoralen should be used only under experts guidance as they might otherwise have some side effects.
III) Radish Seeds: Radish seeds are very valuable in treating vitiligo. Approximately 40 grams of finely pounded radish seeds should be soaked overnight in a little amount of vinegar. The paste should be applied on white patches and allowed to dry for around two hours or until it dries and comes out as scales. For even better results, a little white arsenic can also be added and allowed to soak overnight in the paste.
- IV) Basil leaves and lime juice: Basil leaves has vital anti-viral and anti-aging attributes which are beneficial for the skin. Basil leaves paste mixed with lime juice is also known to promote melanin production and is an effective home remedy for vitiligo. An extract of basil leaves mixed with lime juice should be applied up to thrice a day for up to 6 months for best results.
- V) Red clay: Red clay found on river beds is rich in copper content which helps in re-pigmentation of the skin. The clay should be mixed in ginger juice and applied over the white spots once a day. While red clay aids in re-pigmentation, ginger juice serves to increase blood flow to the affected spots.
- VI) Copper treated water: Drinking water stored overnight in copper utensils is effective in promotes production of melanin by melanocytes and is effective in toning the skin of a vitiligo affected person. Copper treated water should be taken instead of normal water by sufferers of Vitiligo.
VII) Turmeric: Turmeric mixed with mustard oil is also a beneficial natural home cure for vitiligo. About 500 gms of turmeric should be hammered and soaked in eight liters of water at night. The mixture should be boiled in the morning till it reduces to 1/8th the original volume. The resultant liquid should then be strained and mixed with 500 gms of mustard oil. This mixture should then be heated until only oil is left. It should be applied on white patches every morning and evening for treating vitiligo.
VIII) Babchi seeds: Babchi seeds combined with tamarind powder is one of the best home remedies for vitiligo. Equal amount of both the seeds should be soaked in water for three to four days. They should then be shelled and dried in the shade before being made into a paste. The resultant paste should be applied to the white patches for a week. Some skins are sensitive to babchi seeds. If the application of paste causes itching or the white spots become red this treatment should be discontinued.
- IX) Khellin (Aka: Ammi visnaga). Khel is a Mediterranean plant with vital attributes that make it a beneficial home remedy for Vitiligo. Extract of Khel fruit, is chemically similar to the photosensitizing psoralen which is used for PUVA phototherapy. Many researches have established that a topical application and oral intake of Khellin extract had an efficacy comparable to that of psoralen under UV light therapy. Its dosage varies depending on the case, and treatment and should be used under a dermatologist’s guidance.
- X) Ginkgobiloba: Extract of ginkgo biloba given in a dose of 40mg, thrice a day has been found effective in arresting the growth of progressive vitiligo. Re-pigmentation has also been observed in some of the cases. Although promising, the results have not yet been confirmed by larger trials.
- XI) Goose foot: Goose foot taken as a vegetable twice daily, morning and evening is very effective for treating leucoderma. The juice of the leaves of goose foot can also be used to apply on the patches.
XII) Neem: Drinking one glass of neem juice daily is very beneficial for treating leucoderma.
XIII) Pomegranate leaves: Take a handful of pomegranate leaves and powder them fine. Take about 8grams of this powder , twice daily, with a glass of water.
XIV) Neem: Drinking one glass of neem juice daily is very beneficial for treating leucoderma.
- XV) Turmeric: In about eight litres of water soak around 500grams of turmeric . Boil till it is reduced by half. Strain the liquid and add half a litre of mustard oil. Apply on the white patches twice a day , for at least two to three months.
XVI) Black gram: Powder black gram and add water to make a paste. Apply this paste on the affected areas and wash off after it dries. Do this for about four to five months for better results.
XVI) Ginger leaves: Take ginger leaves and powder it with poultice and apply this paste on the white patches.
XVII) Figs: Eat a lot of figs in the raw form , as it purifies the blood and improves its circulation. Roast the figs and powder them and add water to it , to make a paste and apply this paste on the white patches in the skin.
XVIII) Walnuts: Eat walnuts daily for better results. Walnuts can also be powdered and add water to it and make a paste and apply it over the affected parts of the skin.
XIX)Indian lilac leaves: Make juice of Indian lilac leaves and drink this daily twice for better results. Since this juice has essential minerals and compounds to effectively treat this condition ,it is a very good home cure for leucoderma.
- XX) Leadwort: Make a paste of leadwort root and water and apply over the white patches .
If vitiligo is caused by nutritional deficiency, regulation of diet becomes of prime importance. The dietary regimen should include food rich in:
XXI) Vitamin B9 and B12: As per a study conducted on a larger number of vitiligo
sufferers, it was found that 80% had a nutritional deficiency of Vitamin B9(folic acid) and vitamin B12. Cases of total repigmentation after 3 to 6 months of supplementation of these vitamins have also been recorded. Sufferers of
Vitiligo may thus stand in good stead by adding food naturally rich in vitamin B9(yeast extract, liver, dried herbs, sunflower seed) and Vitamin B12 (liver, milk, cheese, beef, chicken, mutton, pork, fish, ham, whole egg. and yoghurt into their diet.
XXII) Copper: Copper is an vital mineral required by the body. Its benefits are immense However for a vitiligo patient; two of its properties are of vital importance –
- A) Copper helps eliminate free radicals that destroy melanocytes
- B) Copper helps produce melanin
A moderate intake of food rich in copper has been found to be very effective home remedy for vitiligo. Food rich in copper include liver, oysters, cocoa powder, chocolates, nuts, calamari and lobsters, dried tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, watermelon seed, ground ginger, chill powder and soybean sprouts.
Caveat: Excess consumption of copper lead to diarrhea, senility, cramps, vomiting, hypertension, depression, schizophrenia and insomnia.
Foods to Avoid
- Avoid coffee, tea, alcohol beverages and condiments
- Avoid highly seasoned dishes.
General course of treatment for Vitiligo
If the spots are small it can be covered with makeup or other cosmetic camouflage techniques.
Dermatologist generally prescribe corticosteroid cream for Vitiligo but the advantage is usually temporary and not without side effects.
Ultraviolet phototherapy in combination with psoralen therapy is effective and popular in treatment of Vitiligo.
Surgical transplantation of melanocytes is a promising new development in the treatment of vitiligo, but it is still evolving besides being very expensive.
Herbal remedies using psoralea and related herbs like celery and wild herbs are one of the most popular modes of treating vitiligo as they offer a more effective, tolerable and economic alternative to corticosteroid medication.
Technically speaking, re-pigmentation or a total de-pigmentation does not cure vitiligo. All methods simply tend to conceal these patches. While there have been several cases of total re-pigmentation, a complete vitiligo cure that addresses the root causes of vitiligo has not been discovered yet.