Vitiligo leads to loss of skin color in patches. It can affect any part of the body including hair and insides of the mouth. It occurs when cells producing melanin stop functioning or die. Since melanin is responsible for skin and hair color, death or non-functioning of these cells leads to loss of skin color. This disease may affect all types of skin though it is more noticeable in dark-skinned people. It is neither life-threatening nor contagious, but it can be stressful and discomforting.
The Problem With Vitiligo:
Vitiligo can be treated, but treatment cannot restore the pristine skin. This is because treatment cannot prevent continued or recurrent loss of melanin. Usually, Vitiligo patients don’t suffer from any pain, soreness, irritation or dryness of the skin. Nevertheless, people with Vitiligo have to take extra protection from sunburn. People suffering from Vitiligo suffer from lack of melanin, the pigment that imparts color to the skin and which also protects the skin from sunburn. In the absence of this protective barrier, Vitiligo patients are prone to sunburn. They may feel itchy and irritated after going out in the sun for some time. It may even spread to other areas if such people are exposed to the sun for a long time. This is why sun care is important in vitiligo.
People suffering from Vitiligo need extra care from the sun as well as from warm weather, owing to their vulnerability to sunburn and exacerbation of disease symptoms. Sunburn is not just painful, it may also abate skin cancer. This is why people suffering from Vitiligo use sunblock or sunscreen products.
They need to choose something that protects them from the ultraviolet rays in the daytime. In fact, there are two types of ultraviolet rays each of which necessitates a different level of protection for Vitiligo people.
Ultraviolet A (UVA):
These are long wavelength rays that penetrate deep into the skin. They can precipitate dryness and cause wrinkles. They are the ones that can cause skin burns. People suffering from Vitiligo need to adopt extra protection from these rays. The required degree of protection is often indicated by stars on the packaging of sunblock creams or sunscreens. For protection against UVA, one needs products with at least 4 stars.
Ultraviolet B (UVB):
These are medium wavelength rays that mainly cause sunburn. The degree of protection against these rays is specified by SPF (Skin Protection Factor). SPF ranges from 2 to 50+. People with Vitiligo require at least an SPF 25 product. There are many ayurvedic sunscreens and sunblock’s with the required degree of protection.
Making Patient Immune to Sun:
The sunblock cream or sunscreen needs to be waterproof. Moreover, using sunblock may well be the best way to prevent sunburn. This is because some UV rays have the ability to penetrate any sunscreen. To protect the skin from irritation and sunburn one may wear loose cotton clothes, a sunglass, and a sun hat to keep the sun rays at bay. Being in the shade during the daytime also helps.
In Vitiligo patients, one can surely prevent it from aggravating and spreading by adopting some simple sun care routines.