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Whitening: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

Last Updated: Apr 25, 2024

What is the treatment?

Whitening of the skin is also known as vitiligo.

How is the treatment done?

Whitening, what is also known as Vitiligo, is a condition of the skin that results in the appearance of white patches. Any part of the body can be affected. Patients with this skin problem generally have white patches on many parts of their body.

Vitiligo occurs because the skin loses melanin, the natural skin pigment. The cells in the body that form the pigment get destroyed, as a result of which melanin is not produced at all. The exact cause of the condition hasn’t yet been found.

Whitening is known to affect about 2% of the world’s population and is a genetic problem. Various autoimmune problems like thyroid disease or even type 1 diabetes can lead to Vitiligo.

The most noticeable symptom of the condition is the loss of skin pigmentation, which may start in one part of the body, then appear in other parts as well. The whitening will also become larger and larger with time. The hair and eye lids of the patient may also be affected.

Although there is no way in which one can prevent or even cure Vitiligo, the whitening can be curbed by the use of cosmetics or corticosteroid creams. Re-pigmentation treatment is also an option.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

The treatment of Vitiligo is highly dependent on 3 factors. Firstly, the number of patches that have appeared on the body. Secondly, the extent of the patches and lastly the treatment that the patients opts for.

The treatment options can be medical as well as surgical. The treatment will be suggested by the doctor depending on what will suit the patient the best. When it comes to medical treatment, the doctor may prescribe you a cream that has to be applied on the skin or medicines that need to be consumed. The doctor may also suggest Ultraviolet A, that is, UV-A light treatment to remove the discoloration. If area covered by the white patches is large, the doctor may suggest removal of skin color from other areas of the body as well.

The surgical treatments for Vitiligo include skin grafting and tattooing. In case of skin grafting, skin is removed from one part of the body and is placed on the affected area. This form of treatment is opted by patients who have very small white patches.

Irrespective of the type of treatment you opt for, the condition cannot yet be fully cured and can worsen with time.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

In case of a skin graft, you are eligible if there is no appearance of a new white patch or the patches have not become larger in the span of a year.


Are there any side effects?

Patients who are not eligible for topical Vitiligo treatment include pregnant women.

Patients who’s Vitiligo is a result of sun damage are not eligible for skin grafting treatment.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

In case of topical treatment, the side effects include acne, development of spider veins, dermal scarring, thinning of the skin, mild skin irritation and inflammation. UV-A light treatment can result in some temporary side effects like mild burning and redness, some may also experience dry skin.

How long does it take to recover?

The post treatment guidelines for Vitiligo depends on the treatment you opt for. Consult with your doctor for more information.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

There is no particular recovery time period for Vitiligo as the condition cannot be cured. If you have opting for a surgical condition you should consult with your doctor about how much time will it take for recovery once the procedure is done.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

The price of topical creams for Vitiligo start from Rs100 and can go up to Rs1, 000 as well. UV-A Treatment in the country can cost up to Rs 6, 500 or even more.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

The results of the treatment are not quite permanent, as it cannot be entirely cured.

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Written ByDr. Ganesh Avhad MD, DNB, FIDP, FILDermatology
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