June 1, 2012

Vitiligo

When I was a college freshman, I noticed a slight circular discoloration on the left part of my chin. I thought that it was just Tinea versicolor (an-an in Filipino/Tagalog) so I bought anti-fungal cream. After consuming a small tube, nothing happened but discoloration become more intense, until my mother noticed that even the hair growing on the area turns to be white instead of black. She immediately advised me to see a dermatologist since she has already suspected that it was not just a fungal infection. The dermatologist told us that it is Vitiligo, and my mother was not wrong about her suspicion.

What is Vitiligo?
Only few have the knowledge about this skin disorder. Some of would say that it was the same skin disease that the King of Pop Michael Jackson has.
Vitiligo is a condition that skin’s melanocytes (responsible for producing skin pigments) die or does not work causing depigmentation. There are still no solid proof about the causes since occurrence of this skin disease is less than 1% of the world’s population; however studies suggest that it was either genetic in nature, oxidative stress, neural or viral causes. The most common symptom of Vitiligo is simply depigmentation of the skin. By the way, THIS IS NOT CONTAGIOUS!
Are there ways to treat this? 
I was immediately treated by the dermatologist. Something was injected the affected skin (I wasn’t able to get the name). It really hurts since very small amount the medication is injected all around and center of the discolored area. About 30-40 times injections were made to fully consume the allocated medicine, about 2-ml. I was also given some medications and vitamins for the skin. Two different creams: Clobe/Clobetasol ointment and meladinine cream was also handled to me. This will be applied twice a day, morning and night. I was also advised to expose the affected area to morning sunlight for at least 5 minutes after application of meladinine cream followed by applying Clobe ointment. Too much exposure to sunlight must be avoided (the reason why I was exempted to ROTC, LOL). After a week, I noticed a big change on the affected area. Because of limited budget, I wasn’t able to return to the doctor on a weekly basis but continue to use the creams given to me.


On my visit to other dermatologist near my workplace, two years after my last visit, the same treatment was done: injection, given creams but instead of meladinine cream I was given Oil of Bergamot, 15% solution (extract from Bergamot Orange)

As I searched the internet, there are other ways to treat Vitiligo but seems you need a lot of money.
Phototherapy: UVB – The affected area is exposed to UVB lights. A few weeks is only needed if Vitiligo is located on face, mouth, ears and not more than 3 years while it will take more than a month if it happens to be on hands and legs and already more than 3 years. Treatment using this method is done 2-3 times a week either at home or at the clinic. However, this does not guarantee a 100% re-pigmentation.
Phototherapy: PUVA – Like the previous treatment, it uses UV light but uses UVA.  It also involves the use of drug, Psoralen, making the skin highly sensitive to UV lights. This treatment requires twice a week for 6-12 months and might cause side effects like sunburn and freckles.
Melanocytes Transplant – This method is done by taking thin layer of pigmented skin. The melanocytes were extracted and cultured before grafting to the affected area. Re-pigmentation varies for each patient.
Camouflage – This is only applicable to mild cases where cosmetic chemicals are used. Skin tattooing using skin tone ink is also a type of camouflaging method. Tattooing is not a good option since affected area will continue to expand when not treated thus you need to have tattoo everytime you notice that your vitiligo is already expanding.
Reversal – This is the traditional method of treating Vitiligo, which I think the one used by the two dermatologists to me. It includes the application of corticosteroid creams. Corticosteroids are types of hormone produced naturally from vertebrates. It was produced synthetically and used in creams.
De-pigmenting – This method does not treat the affected area, thus it treats the non-affected areas to have even skin color through the use of chemicals like hydroquinone. This method could be permanent; therefore, it is necessary to prevent excessive exposure to sunlight to avoid sunburn and melanoma.
As of today, I haven’t returned to dermatologist yet because I am trying to treat Vitiligo through natural method.  There is this "Healing Oil" promoted by one of the natural doctors that can cure different kinds of disease, even cancer. However, I haven't have the time to go to their office located at Novaliches to buy "Healing Oil". For the mean time, I still use the Oil of Bergamot and uses Almond Oil (thanks to our friend Ivy) instead of the Clobetasol Ointment (according to my dermatologist, excessive use of Clobe Ointment might cause sun burns and thining of the skin).
I will give updates on the progress of the said natural medication and will be posted here.