Leucoderma, commonly known as vitiligo, is an agonizing skin disease. The word actually means white skin. There is a steady loss in the pigment melanin within the skin layers which leads to white colored patches. These patches look unpleasant, particularly in individuals who have a darker complexion. The disease does not result in any organic damage. This disease is not caused due to any kind of bacteria, or due to unhealthy blood. It is not regarded as infectious or contagious.
This condition generally begins with a small white-colored spot, which eventually develops into patches. The patches are usually pale at first, but grow to be whiter over the years as a result of loss of pigment. As the spots grow, they mix with one another and, during course of time, form an extremely wide patch. In certain cases, the majority of the skin on the body could be covered with white patches.
Leucoderma could be caused due to an accidental cut, burn or perhaps an ulcer. The melanocytes cells (that produce melanin pigment) end up becoming dormant or inactive. Because of this dormancy or inactivity the pigmentation eventually disappears from the layers of the skin and results in white patches.
However the reason for vitiligo could be inappropriate hygiene, incorrect food combinations, regular intake of junk food, intake of vegetables treated with insecticides or pesticides, history of jaundice or typhoid fever, use of harsh antibiotics and so on. An important cause for vitiligo could be unexpected emotional trauma and stress. Due to the many reasons mentioned, there is a formation of toxins within the body, which disturbs the immune system and in turn reaches a condition of autoimmunity (an ailment in which the immune system destroys its own tissues and cells). Autoimmunity is the main reason for vitiligo according to Ayurveda and even Allopathy.
The primary factors behind leucoderma are extreme mental stress, chronic or severe gastric disorders, reduced hepatic function including jaundice, worms and / or other parasites inside the alimentary canal, typhoid, defective perspiratory mechanism, as well as burn injuries. Heredity also is a well identified causative factor.
Treatment Procedures for Leucoderma
You can find numerous treatment procedures available for the treatment of Leucoderma. These procedures consist of internal medications, depigmentation therapy, topical applications, radiation therapy, and photosensitivity therapy. All these treatment procedures have a certain level of effectiveness as well as their limitations.
Making use of colored creams along with tanning creams in order to conceal the patches on the skin is a more prevalent approach. This covers the patches however needs a considerable amount of time to apply. The drawback of using these creams is that they don’t prevent more spots from appearing.
Steroid creams are also very widely used. However, steroids impact the immune system of the body and weaken it. Hence, when any steroid cream is used on the skin, the antibodies within the skin are weakened and stop targeting the melanocytes and as a result of this, the melanin production resumes. It should be noted that this particular treatment solution does not really assure that the patches would not appear again. Furthermore, steroid creams cannot be used regularly. Using steroids has significant side effects, including permanent thinning of skin as well as the appearance of stretch marks on the area of application, which also happen to be permanent. Steroid creams additionally make the skin significantly less resistant against infections.
During UV therapy Leucoderma procedures, oral medications are combined along with long time exposure to ultra-violet rays in order to promote the melanocytes to produce melanin. Medications could be taken orally at home however in order to expose the patient to Ultra-violet light, they need to go through special UV ray sessions in a hospital. These sessions are time consuming in addition to the therapy being very costly and unaffordable for many patients. The side affects of Ultra-violet rays are extremely painful and range from sunburns to skin freckling.
Pertaining to patients with large scale de-pigmentation, it’s much easier to entirely de pigment the skin instead of attempting to pigment the white patches in the form of Leucoderma treatment. To put it differently, the white-colored patches are so big and also cover up so much area that it is much easier to completely whiten the skin. The amount of time needed to complete this kind of procedure could be about a year and it requires medication to be applied on the skin. Following the procedure, the skin turns extremely sensitive and needs to be protected against direct sunlight. This is recommended only in serious cases.
This kind of treatment includes surgical incision and removal of melanocytes. This gives the skin a more even tone. The surgical method to be used will depend on the type as well as location of the lesion. Therefore, selecting the correct cosmetic surgical procedure is essential for excellent aesthetic results.
Various surgical procedures include:
- Therapeutic spot or regional dermabrasion
- Miniature punch grafting
- Ultra thin skin grafting
- Suction blister grafting
- Melanocyte culture and transplantation
Miniature punch grafting: In this procedure, multiple thin grafts with a diameter of 2 – 2.5 mm are taken from the donor site using special punches and then grafted onto the diseased area. After completing the grafts, the patient is advised to take Puva Sol or Puva. Re-pigmentation process occurs in around 3 to 6 months and provides good cosmetic results.
Ultra thin skin grafting: In this procedure, ultra thin skin is grafted on the dermabraded or laser ablated area of stable vitiligo. Grafted skin falls off in about a week’s time but a cellular uptake of melanocytes takes place on the abraded skin and slowly starts pigmenting. It requires around 2 or 3 months for the pigmentation to fuse and also match the color of the surrounding skin.
Suction blister grafting: In this procedure, a prolonged suction is applied to the donor site, which raises a large bleb, and then a thin graft of skin is obtained. The skin is grafted onto the dermabraded recipient surface. This procedure is lengthy but offers excellent cosmetic results.
Melanocyte transplantation: In this procedure, the de pigmented recipient area is laser ablated or dermabraded and the melanocyte suspension is then applied to it. The site is covered with collagen and then immobilized. This procedure can cover larger areas and provides excellent cosmetic results.
Tattooing: During this procedure, artificial pigment is injected into the depigmented site. After choosing the pigment color that matches the color of the surrounding skin, pigment granules are implanted into the de-pigmented patch using either, electrical or manually driven needles. Although the patch of skin resembles the normal skin surrounding the site, it might permanently fade or obtain a bluish hue after a year or two which is clearly noticeable and might become unacceptable. Therefore, tattooing is generally not advisable unless the patch is located in an inoperable site.