Myths and Realities

Myths about vitiligo and its treatment

1. There is no treatment in modern medicine for vitiligo. Only alternate medicine(Ayurveda, homeopathy, unani etc) can give possible ‘cure’.

There is no perfect system of medicine or totally bad system of medicine in treating a particular disease. Modern medicine has advanced options to tackle vitiligo if managed in right way, right time and with right options according to patients disease characteristics.

2. One should not take allopathic medicines in the beginning of vitiligo, since it is a harsher treatment.

There are good options in modern medicine to manage early vitiligo effectively with out any significant adverse affects

3. Modern medicines have side effects.

Most have belief that natural medicines don’t have side effects. However, in reality anything under sun including sun can cause side effect. Basically side effects are undesired effects of particular drug. For example a natural drug like babchi or bakuchi which is a raw psoralen when used in vitiligo to get pigmentation can cause burning, blistering and scarring. This is also a side effect. So, side effects are not limited to only modern medicine. Side effect with any drug is dependent on dosage, duration and individual susceptibility. Most of the side effects due to individual susceptibility. When opting for any treatment one has to weigh risk vs benefits. If benefits are high compared to reversible and minimal side effects the treatment should be continued.

4. Better way to get pigmentation is to use babchi or other related products which burns the skin and gives darker pigment.

We have seen patients applying these products and suffering with burns. Trying to get pigment with such a harsh way may deplete the reservoir of cells and make vitiligo refractory. The stability of darker pigment is less and it tends to inhibit further pigmentation in surrounding areas.

5. Modern medicine mainly treats with steroids.

There is no need for steroids in every patients. Even if it is used in some, it is for shorter duration. There is no utterly bad drug or a perfect drug. It is the person who is prescribing or taking the drug could do wrong. In a patient with aggressively spreading vitiligo where autoimmunity plays a role, steroid is one of the best ways to tackle it. When used in a right way with right instruction and for short duration it effectively stabilises the vitiligo.

6. Since vitiligo is just a skin disease there is no need for any test.

Actually the skin patches are merely trailer of a full blown movie happening elsewhere in the body. There are tests to detect underlying contributory deficiencies and derangements which are managed easily if detected early.

7. Vitiligo is hereditary And is contagious.

Not necessarily it has to be hereditary. It might have genetic susceptibility. If some one has vitiligo there is no need that there should be a family history of it. It is not contagious or infective.

8. There are treatments which can achieve complete pigmentation with in a week.

This is totally false claim. To achieve visible pigmentation in vitiligo takes at least 2-3 weeks and complete clearance could take months (1-6 months) depending on the severity and size of the patch

9. Surgery should be avoided in vitiligo.

Purpose of surgery in vitiligo is to replenish lost cells. Once has to opt for such procedure in a refractory vitiligo. When done in a right time one can get very good results.

10. Surgery is painful.

The procedure like cell transplantation is minimally painful and it is just minor procedure which can be done on out patient basis.

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