Vitiligo is a skin disorder that is characterized by irregular white patches, which occurs due to the loss of pigment (Melanocytes) from affected areas of the skin. The initial small, white patches often enlarge and change shape, and are most prominent on the face, hand and wrist.
Vitiligo appears to be an acquired condition and may appear at any age. It afflicts less than 1% of the worldwide population. Arguably, the most famous sufferer of Vitiligo is former pop superstar Michael Jackson.
The cause of Vitiligo is still unknown, although there have been researches that have found physical trauma and certain diseases to be the possible trigger. Vitiligo is not known to be life-threatening. Nonetheless, it can cause psychological damage and affect the mental health of the patient, leading to depression and other disorders.
In mild cases of Vitiligo, the white patches can be hidden with simple makeup or similar cosmetics solutions. The traditional Vitiligo treatment given by most dermatologists is corticosteroid cream.
UVB narrowband phototherapy is another common Vitiligo treatment used by dermatologists. There is no heat from the low-powered lamp, exposure time varies and treatment frequencies range from two to three times a week. The success rate is very high in children and in adults when the patches are on the face and neck.
A study in India in 2003, involving 25 patients of Vitiligo, found orally-taken Ginkgo Biloba to be fairly effective in arresting the progress of the disease.
There have also been success through transplanted Melanocytes, where the affected area is treated with pigmented skin taken from the patient's gluteal region. Between 70% to 85% of patients experienced near complete repigmentation.