Vitiligo also known as Leukoderma is a disease of the skin that causes extensive discoloration of the skin.
Most of these discolorations are in form of white patches on the skin. While it may not be considered to be a serious medical concern, it is a serious health concern socially. It reduces a person’s self-esteem and can cause social problems. In this article, we are going to talk more about as many methods of treating Vitiligo as we can. We are going to cover different types and philosophies of treatment of Leukoderma from orthodox to other aspects to complementary methods to homeopathic methods in this article.
Treatments of Vitiligo / Leukoderma in orthodox medicine:
The aim of orthodox medicine is to reduce the progress and rate of depigmentation seen in Vitiligo and to reverse the whitening of the skin (depigmentation). Drugs normally used in orthodox medicine include corticosteroid creams like fluticasone creams which are recommended as a first line treatment method. Alternatively, calcineurin inhibitors like tacrolimus and pimecrolimus made in form of creams. These creams are usually rubbed on the affected parts twice daily. These creams aim at suppressing the activities of the immune system at that part of the body since conventional medicine believes that in cases of Leukoderma, the immune system goes out of whack. In addition to being used as a cream, these drugs can be taken orally to achieve better results. However, due to side effects care must be taken when using these drugs – trust us, it’s not a good idea to suppress your immune system for long except the benefit of suppressing your immune system is more than the risk like what you see in transplants. Some other drugs which are not widely prescribed for Vitiligo but are being studied include methotrexate, latanoprost, minocycline, statins, and biologics. Further down the line, ultraviolet light (more specifically, ultraviolet A light) is also used for the treatment of Vitiligo. Psoralen creams can be used to sensitize the parts of the body to UV light. It is somehow like getting a medical suntan. Care has to be taken when using this method as psoralen creams can make your skin super sensitive to the sun so you may need to use sunscreen. Improperly done, UV therapy can lead to burns on the skin and may put you at risk of skin cancer. Remember melanin is a protective pigment on the skin and it is absent or reduced in Leukoderma. UV therapy can be combined with steroid and calcineurin inhibitors. Surgeries which involve skin grafts or melanocytes (cells that produce pigment on the skin) can be done.
Alternative medicine in the treatment of Vitiligo / Leukoderma
We are going to group traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda (traditional Indian medicine), and other traditional medical practices under this category.
Chinese herbs for Vitiligo / Leukoderma
The traditional Chinese medicine is based on the concept of Qi. It believes that there has to be a balance of yin and yang which are components of qi in the body for the body to be healthy. External stress such as abnormal temperatures and humidity can cause a disturbance in the energy flow of the body. This can lead to diseases of which Vitiligo is not exempted. In the treatment of Vitiligo / Leukoderma, Chinese traditional medicine uses a decoction of a mixture of herbs to restore energy (qi). Three of the most effective decoctions used in Chinese medicine are xiaobailing decoction, Chang-yee powder, and three-yellow powder. These decoctions are usually a mixture of herbs like Xanthium strumarium, Cnidium Officinale (chuanxiong rhizome), Sophora flavescens, Sesamum indicum (black sesame), Atractylodes japonica, Tribulus Terrestris (sarrata) and Arisaema amurense. There is no much scientific data on the use of acupuncture to treat Vitiligo, although it can be used for other skin diseases. However, it may still be worth a try.
Korean natural remedies for Vitiligo / Leukoderma
Korean traditional medicine, on the other hand, makes use of a lot of ginseng. Different types of ginseng like the white ginseng, red ginseng, raw ginseng or ginseng from the Acanthopanax species (Panax ginseng) are used. Some of these plants are known to be effective in the treatment of Vitiligo. They may also use Arsenic and Mercury in the treatment of Vitiligo. Some other medicines from Korean folk medicine include herbs like Ficus carica (fig tree), Rhododendron schlippenbachii and Lespedeza bicolor. Medicines from animals include purified honey bee venom.
Indian ayurvedic medicinal herbs for Vitiligo / Leukoderma
Traditional Indian medicine consists of different practices such as Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, Yoga, and Naturopathy. Due to thousands of years of trade between the Indians and the Chinese, some of the herbs they use are similar plants like Tribulus Terrestris (sarrata) for example. Plants like Psoralea corylifolia which are rich in psoralen are used in combination with exposure to sunlight in the treatment of Vitiligo. This is somewhat similar to the orthodox treatment which uses a combination of psoralen cream and UV light. Blood purifiers like Acasia catachu and Acaranthus aspara are also used. In addition to these, arsenic and mercury are used just as in traditional Chinese medicine.
Some other herbs used in the treatment of Vitiligo include Picrorhiza kurroa (used in traditional Chinese medicine), Polypodium leucotomos, and Ginkgo biloba.
Homeopathic medicine in the treatment of Vitiligo
We will not talk much about homeopathic therapy in this article since it has already been covered in another article. However, we are going to give some of the medicines used in homeopathy. Some of the medicines in homeopathy used to treat Vitiligo contain Arsenic Sulphuricum Flalvum, Calcarea carbonicum, arsenic album (arsenic trioxide), Psoralea coryl, Tuberculinum, Baryta muriaticum (barium chloride) and Baryta carbonicum (barium Carbonate).
Alternative Treatment for Vitiligo / Leukoderma in Philadelphia