Vitiligo (a condition in which white or non-pigmented patches of skin appear on the body) affects people of all skin types. It can be more obvious in people with darker skin tones. The depigmented patches can appear anywhere on the body. It can also affect hair, inside the mouth, and even the eyes. Melanin is what determines the pigment in skin, hair, and eyes. When the cells that produce the melanin die, or stop functioning properly, you are left with patches of non-pigmented skin in the affected area.
While experts aren’t certain what causes the disease, they believe it could be linked to family history, an immune disorder that causes the cells to stop functioning properly, or a trigger event, like a sunburn, stress, or exposure to industrial chemicals. While the condition is not life threatening or contagious, it can be very stressful to manage, and often causes people to be very self-conscious, or feel bad about themselves. Vitiligo can start at any age, but typically appears before age 20.
It is very difficult to predict the rate at which vitiligo will progress. Sometimes the disease will stop progressing on its own, but treatment can help stop or slow down the discoloration process. The skin can get its color back, but sometimes treatments to restore the pigment produce results at a very slow rate. Light therapies are a common treatment for vitiligo, which cause gradual darkening of the vitiligo spots over time, resulting in an overall blending of skin tone. Cosmetics can also be used to add lost color to the affected areas, and can be very effective in temporarily evening the skin tone. Topical medication can be prescribed for certain patients to help restore pigment in the skin.
The Xtrac Laser is the first excimer light therapy system FDA approved to treat vitiligo. It utilizes a specific wavelength of light to stimulate the pigment in the skin for patients with vitiligo. The Xtrac Laser carefully delivers the light energy to the areas of skin that do not have pigment, while leaving the normal areas of skin intact. There is no premature aging or thinning of the skin. Treatments usually take 5-10 minutes.
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