Question : I HAVE two big white patches on my neck. I am worried that these patches will spread to other parts of my body. I have consulted many doctors and was told that I have vitiligo. I'm only given creams to apply on the patches. May I know what is the cause and what can I do?
Answer : VITILIGO occurs when the skin's pigment-producing cells, the melanocytes, stop producing pigment and white patches come out as a result. Any part of the body may be affected. Common areas of involvement are the face, lips, hands, arms, legs and genital areas.
Vitiligo may be related to an existing autoimmune disorder, pernicious anaemia, a lack of vitamin B12, an overactive thyroid or diabetes. Vitiligo is also linked to stomach and digestive problems, especially to nutrient deficiencies caused by low stomach acid.
These white areas are more sensitive to sun damage since the protective pigment is not available. You should use a sunscreen that provides protection from both the UVA and UVB forms of ultraviolet light.
Sunscreen helps protect the skin from sunburn and long-term damage. Sunscreen also minimises tanning, which makes the contrast between normal and depigmented skin less noticeable.
There are no specific remedies for this autoimmune disorder. These areas are easily sunburned, and people with vitiligo have an increased risk to skin cancer.
Supplementing with antioxidant nutrients such as vitamins A, C, E and minerals such as zinc and selenium may help neutralise free radicals that are damaging to the skin.
Evening primrose oil will help to promote a healthy skin as it contains essential fatty acids and anti-inflammatory properties. A regular intake of the oil will ease problems with your skin condition.
Many people with vitiligo are often deficient in stomach acid which hinders nutrient absorption. This is a sign of deficiency in the B vitamins. Taking a vitamin B complex will also help reduce stress that often triggers vitiligo.
You should avoid taking foods high in saturated fats, and alcohol. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains is essential. Lastly, regular sleep and exercise are essential for the body to resume normal functioning.