Dermatologist offers tips to help vitiligo patients care for their skin
Millions of people worldwide have vitiligo, a condition that causes the skin to lose its natural color, resulting in patches of light skin.

 

Millions of people worldwide have vitiligo, a condition that causes the skin to lose its natural color, resulting in patches of light skin. Although the white or light patches do not typically cause other symptoms, the condition can cause low self-esteem and depression in patients- of whom nearly half develop vitiligo before the age of 21. Although there is no cure for vitiligo, dermatologists from the American Academy of Dermatology say there is a lot patients can do at home to make vitiligo less visible and help prevent the condition from spreading.

“Many people with vitiligo do not have any other signs or symptoms and feel completely healthy,” says board-certified dermatologist Anisha Patel, MD, FAAD. “However, the change in appearance caused by vitiligo can affect people emotionally, especially those who are younger and more concerned about their appearance. The good news is that there are things patients can do at home to make the condition more manageable.”

To help vitiligo patients care for their skin, Dr. Patel recommends the following tips:

Protect your skin from the sun- Exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays increases your risk of skin cancer, including melanoma, the deadliest form. Since vitiligo skin can burn more easily, it’s important to protect your skin whenever you’re outdoors. To do this, seek shade, wear protective clothing-;including a lightweight, long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses and apply sunscreen to all areas of the body not covered by clothing. Use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, and remember to reapply every two hours when you’re outside or after swimming or sweating.

Avoid tanning- Just like the sun, tanning beds also emit damaging UV rays that cause sunburn and skin cancer, including melanoma. Further, if you have a light skin tone, tanning may make your vitiligo more pronounced by increasing the contrast between your natural skin color and the light patches. Read more

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