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Characteristics

  • Blotchy, white areas that appear on the skin
  • Itchiness or pain at the affected skin
  • Photosensitivity and tendency for sunburn

Vitiligo

in Fargo, North Dakota

Vitiligo is an autoimmune condition that affects many people at a young age, often lasting for the rest of their lives. It can affect nearly anyone and manifest in many different areas, causing low self-esteem rather than any dangerous symptoms.

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What is Vitiligo?

Vitiligo is a condition that is signified by a loss of pigment in some areas of the skin or hair. This causes the skin or hair to become pale or light versus the surrounding skin that remains pigmented. Vitiligo can even occur in areas like the inside of the mouth or the eyes. This process is not life-threatening or dangerous, although some patients report that the affected skin can become itchy or uncomfortable. Vitiligo is not contagious.

What Causes Vitiligo?

It’s not well understood what exactly causes vitiligo. The discoloration itself is caused by the death of melanocytes, which are cells responsible for giving the skin its normal color. It’s believed that certain kinds of vitiligo may be an autoimmune disorder, which causes the body to attack its own cells. It’s also believed that there is a connection between vitiligo and thyroid diseases. If you have an immediate family member that has vitiligo, you also have an increased risk of developing it.

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How is Vitiligo Treated?

There are many different treatment options for vitiligo that depend on your cosmetic goals and preference for long-term or short-term solutions. There are many temporary cosmetic methods that can be used, including self-tanners, makeup, or dyes for the individual areas. There are also medications that can help to restore pigment, but usually in small areas. This usually includes corticosteroids, which can come with side-effects. The excimer laser system has been shown to produce excellent results in some patients with a package of treatments, and can be the preferred treatment because it comes with few side-effects versus oral or topical medications.  Most patients find best results when combining two or more of these methods, but this can vary. In short, it’s best to discuss your hopes for treatment with Dr. Ness so that she can recommend your best option. If you experience pain or discomfort with your vitiligo, Dr. Ness can prescribe medications.

Vitiligo Maintenance

There is no way to prevent vitiligo from occurring, but there are some important steps to take to prevent it from worsening. The most important of these is effective sun protection since vitiligo-affected areas can be especially sensitive to sun exposure and sunburn. This can also increase your risk of skin cancer, so you should be sure to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily and wear protective clothing. You should also avoid tanning beds because this can cause the same result.

If you’re opting for cosmetic methods for concealing your affected skin, be sure to get a recommendation from Dr. Ness for long-lasting, waterproof, safe products. You should avoid tattooing at all costs, since wounding the skin can cause a new patch of pale skin to appear.

Schedule A Consultation

You’ve got options when it comes to restoring your skin and feeling comfortable showing it off. To begin discussing your treatment options with Dr. Ness, contact Fargo Dermatology by calling or filling out our online form.

Dr. Rachel Ness Medical

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