Vitiligo is a condition in which patches of your skin turn into smooth, white areas called macules. This happens because the melanin-producing cells in your skin called melanocytes stop producing color. Vitamin deficiencies are not the cause of this condition, but researchers are not sure what causes vitiligo. If you notice your skin starts to lose its color, make an appointment to see your doctor to get a full physical. It is important to rule out any serious condition that could trigger this symptom.
The cause of vitiligo is not known. An autoimmune disorder could cause your body to start attacking the melanocytes, and this causes the patches of white skin, according to the Cleveland Clinic. It does have a relationship to conditions such as pernicious anemia, hyperthyroidism and Addison's disease. Vitiligo could have a genetic component because it tends to run in families. Researchers think that your nerves may release toxins that kill off melanocytes, or the cells may just destroy themselves for some reason scientists have not yet uncovered.
Vitamins and Vitiligo
Some vitamins are studied in conjunction with vitiligo. A study published in "Cutis" in 1992 supplemented participants with 1 to 10 milligrams of folic acid per day, 1 gram of vitamin C per day and 1,000 microgram injections of vitamin B-12 every two weeks, according to Healthwise. As a result, eight people regained some pigmentation in their vitiligo areas after three months. In another study published in the journal "Acta Dermato-Venereologica" in 1997, participants took 10 milligrams of folic acid per day and 2,000 micrograms of B-12 per day by mouth. They also underwent sun exposure therapy. About half had some repigmentation in a three to six month period.
In addition to vitamins, some herbs are studied for their affects at helping repigmentation from vitiligo. A study published in "Clinical and Experimental Dermatology" in 2003 gave participants 40 milligrams of Gingko biloba standardized to 24 percent ginkgoflavonglycosides three times per day for six months. Marked to total repigmentation occurred in 40 percent of those who took the herb, compared to 9 percent repigmentation in those who took the placebo. Other helpful alternative therapies that are still in the preliminary stages are khella, picrorhiza and hypnosis.
Traditional treatment for vitiligo focuses on repigmentation and can include medication and surgery. Corticosteroids are often taken orally or used topically to help regain skin color, and it may take many months to work. In another treatment, the drug psoralen is taken and then the skin patches are exposed to ultraviolet A light. Patients may also opt for skin grafts from other parts of their body to cover the patches that have no pigmentation. Tattooing to restore color is another option, and depigmentation of the skin around the vitiligo to match the patches is sometimes performed, as well.