SkinCare in Wellesley, MA
If you’ve noticed patches of skin which appear lighter than your natural skin tone, you may be experiencing vitiligo. This condition isn’t painful or uncomfortable, but many patients feel self-conscious about their appearance due to vitiligo. Thankfully, an expert dermatologist can help. Dr. Rashel Goodkin is a Harvard-trained dermatologist treating vitiligo patients in the Boston area.
What is Vitiligo?
Vitiligo is a condition which causes light patches to appear as the skin loses its natural pigment. Vitiligo can affect many areas of the body, with some patients only experiencing small patches of pigmentation loss while others see large areas of light skin. Vitiligo can also cause pigmentation loss in the eyes, inside of the mouth, or hair.
- Many patients with vitiligo develop white patches that appear on both sides of the body, with cycles of color loss that can periodically stop and start again throughout the patient’s life. Pigmentation loss can occur on the hands, fingers, wrists, feet, or around the eyes or mouth and sometimes expands to cover a large area.
- A few patients may develop segmental vitiligo, where light areas appear on one side of the body only.
Symptoms of Vitiligo
Most patients who have vitiligo do not experience any symptoms aside from white patches that appear on the skin, hair, eyes, or mouth. Some patients, however, describe an itching or painful sensation in the areas that are affected by vitiligo. Many patients will experience self-consciousness or anxiety regarding the appearance of vitiligo, depending on how noticeable the condition is and whether they feel socially isolated because of their vitiligo.
When to Seek Vitiligo Treatment
Vitiligo is thought to have an autoimmune cause and can sometimes be associated with other autoimmune conditions, such as certain thyroid diseases. Genetic predisposition may play a role in vitiligo as well. If you experience vitiligo symptoms, it’s important to seek treatment from a qualified physician such as Dr. Goodkin who can evaluate your health and symptoms to rule out other complications. While vitiligo has no cure, treatment can help slow the progression of discoloration or return pigment to the skin. Areas such as face and neck can often have excellent response to treatment. Seeking treatment as soon as you notice light patches can help minimize the visible discoloration.
Treatment for Vitiligo
For some patients, Dr. Goodkin may recommend a topical corticosteroid, which can improve pigmentation when applied to areas effected by vitiligo. This treatment is most effective for the face and neck among other areas. Other topical treatments can be used, such as vitamin D analog creams and other creams that can locally diminish immune system influence in the skin.
Light therapy can also be used to help restore pigment. This may include the use of narrow band UVB light booth (most effective for widespread vitiligo, especially as it effects the face, trunk, upper arms, or upper legs). For more localized areas, narrow band UVB laser treatment is also an option.
Surgery is also an option for some patients, particularly adults whose vitiligo symptoms have remained stable for at least six months. This involves removing some skin with the patient’s natural pigmentation and placing it in areas affected by vitiligo.
Finally, a minority of patients choose depigmentation, or removing pigment from areas unaffected by vitiligo. This is achieved through topical treatments that are applied regularly to gradually remove pigment. This option is not recommended for most patients.
Dr. Goodkin will carefully evaluate your skin and vitiligo symptoms to determine the best treatment option for you.
Schedule an Appointment
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Goodkin, call 781.227.7977 or request your appointment online.