It's a shock to be diagnosed with vitiligo for the first time. It may be difficult to discover information regarding the disease, and a search on the Internet will reveal an alarming number of sites all claiming to have a cure. Your worry develops as you learn that there is no guarantee of a cure and that you must deal with invasive gazing on a daily basis if your vitiligo is visible. Some people report being glared at, taunted, or bullied. Furthermore, no one appears to be able to reassure you as to whether or not it will spread. Some people disengage from activities, and others find it difficult to build or sustain connections. Body image is impacted, and many people experience a loss of self-esteem.
These psychological consequences do not appear to be linked to the severity or visibility of the vitiligo. Psychologists, doctors, and dermatologists are now much better at recognizing and understanding the psychological effects of skin diseases. The impact of counseling on patients' capacity to deal and learn to live with their vitiligo have been studied, and research is being conducted.
Counseling can help people deal with these difficulties, and studies utilizing cognitive behavioral therapy have yielded encouraging results, but more research is needed.
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Most people with vitiligo need to take extra care of their skin in warmer weather because they are particularly vulnerable to sunburn. Unlike normal skin, which is protected by melanin (skin pigment), white skin patches have no natural protection against the sun's rays. Vitiligo skin that isn't covered is quite likely to burn quickly. Sunburn is not only uncomfortable, but it may also encourage the growth of vitiligo in some individuals. Skin cancer is also increased by sunburn. Sunlight is necessary for good health since it is our major source of Vitamin D, but the skin must be protected from UV damage.
Use sunblock or sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun.
You must select a product that protects you from UV radiation emitted by the sun's beams. There are two sorts of rays: x-rays and gamma-rays.
UVA (long rays) penetrate deep into the skin and can cause dryness and wrinkles, as well as contributing to burning. The extent of protection against UVA rays is indicated by stars. Vitiligo skin requires at least 4 stars UVA protection ****
UVB (medium rays) are the main cause of sunburn. The extent of protection against UVB rays is indicated by the Skin Protection Factor (SPF) number, which ranges from 2 to 50+. Vitiligo skin requires at least SPF 25.
Sunburn is caused mostly by UVB (medium rays). The Skin Protection Factor (SPF) value, which varies from 2 to 50+, indicates the degree of protection against UVB radiation. SPF 25 is required for vitiligo skin. If you're going to be in the water, your sun protection should be water-resistant or waterproof. It's important to remember that the light may penetrate water up to a depth of thirty-two feet.
Take other precautions.
It is vital not to overuse sunscreen to avoid sunburn. Any sunscreen will allow some UV rays to get through. Wearing loose cotton clothing, a sunhat, and sunglasses can also help to protect your skin. Keep in the shade, especially during the hottest part of the day (11am to 3pm). This is especially crucial for children, especially babies, who have such sensitive skin.
There is so far no evidence that confirms a direct link between nutrition and vitiligo. However, some studies suggest changing your diet or adding supplements could have a positive impact. A nutrient-dense diet is always advisable, not only for vitiligo but for optimum health. A plant-based diet rich in antioxidants, low in inflammatory foods and possibly also gluten-free, may have a beneficial effect on vitiligo.
Eat an antioxidant-rich diet
One potential cause of vitiligo is the effect of stress on the cells that produce melanin. Less melanin means more skin depigmentation.
You can try to protect yourself against this stress by eating a diet high in antioxidants. One study carried out on mice with vitiligo showed significant levels of repigmentation when they ate foods high in antioxidants. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and spices are all high in antioxidants. A good rule of thumb for eating enough antioxidants is to eat as many different colored fruit and vegetables as possible: “eat the rainbow”. Foods high in omega-3 (but lower in omega-6) could also help improve your symptoms. These include oily fish, nuts, seeds and algae.
A plant-based diet has been shown to be very high in antioxidants (as well as a whole host of other benefits!). This is not the same as a vegan diet because you can still eat some animal products. However, the majority of your diet is made up of plants.
Try a gluten-free diet
One study on a vitiligo patient found that following a gluten-free diet resulted in substantial repigmentation. The case study saw significant changes after nine-month period. The study was only carried out on one person, but you could cut gluten from your diet to see if it works for you. One reason for the improvements in this patient could be because gluten is an inflammatory food.
Avoid inflammatory foods
Avoiding foods that cause an inflammatory response may help reduce the symptoms of vitiligo.
Inflammatory foods include:
trans fats, found in fried foods
soybean oil and vegetable oil
processed snack foods, such as chips and crackers
desserts, such as cookies, candy, and ice cream
Inflammatory foods make it harder for your gut to work and remain healthy. A healthy gut helps decrease low-grade inflammation in the body. Fibre, probiotic and prebiotic foods, such as sauerkraut, can help improve gut health.
Although it is considered preferable to consume nutrients via whole foods rather than with supplements, studies suggest some supplements can aid repigmentation in vitiligo patients:
alpha lipoic acid
polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3)
It may be difficult for you, as a parent or carer, to talk to your child about vitiligo because of your own feelings about the condition. It's also crucial that you acknowledge your personal sentiments about vitiligo, since this might be an emotional moment for you. So, if you're having trouble, consult with a healthcare professional.
As you may be aware, taking your child to the doctor or to a specialist may be a very stressful experience. You'll almost certainly be discussing their vitiligo in front of them, which might upset them, especially if they aren't ready to visit a doctor. It's a good idea to talk about the visit ahead of time and jot down any questions you (or your kid) wish to ask.
As a parent, you'll naturally want to provide your child the best treatment possible and explore every medical option available. However, you should be mindful that your child may misunderstand your efforts to locate a remedy. It's likely that they'll see this as a sign that you're embarrassed by their situation and, as a result, that you don't love them. It's a good idea to go through some of the therapy alternatives with your child ahead of time to see if they want to try any of them. Finally, your kid should realize that embracing vitiligo and not treating it is a choice, and that they will have your support if they choose this path.
Make your child feel confident and loved for who they are to help them cope with vitiligo issues. The more confident they are in managing any difficulties they have, the more positive they will feel about the future.