Have you long been suffering from nasty light-colored patches on the skin? Does it affect the quality of your life by giving you emotional stress? Are you tired of concealing those white marks with makeup? We get you. Growing up with vitiligo is not easy; it sets you apart from others by negatively impacting your self-esteem. But, specific natural ways may help you deal with the issue and restore your natural skin color over time. This article will discuss seven excellent home remedies for vitiligo that will offer impressive results if you have enough patience.
What is Vitiligo?
Vitiligo, commonly known as Leucoderma, is a skin condition characterized by the development of white patches on various areas of the skin. This condition is autoimmune, meaning that the body’s immune system targets and destroys melanocytes, the cells responsible for producing pigment in the skin. As a result, affected areas lose color, turning white and forming irregular patches due to the absence of melanin pigment production.
The progression of vitiligo is typically rapid, reaching a plateau at a certain point. In some instances, even after a stable period, repigmentation may occur with sun exposure and home remedies. It’s important to note that while treatments may help restore color to affected skin areas, they don’t provide a complete prevention of the disorder. (1)
Vitiligo affects around 1% of the world’s total population. It is neither contagious nor dangerous for health. But the aesthetic aspect of the condition has been found to be closely linked to emotional stress and low self-esteem (2).
Read Also – How to Conceal Vitiligo with Makeup
Causes of Vitiligo
The exact causes of vitiligo are still not very clear to scientists. However, it is believed that the death or poor functioning of melanocytes is related to autoimmunity, heredity, triggers like severe sunburns, skin trauma (exposure to chemicals or toxins), high levels of stress, and emotional distress.
Symptoms of Vitiligo
Patchy loss of skin color is the primary symptom of vitiligo. They usually first appear on the hands, face, and genitals. Those white patches may also appear in different patterns besides being small or large. Premature graying of eyebrows, eyelashes, and hair on the head is another common sign of the disease.
Though vitiligo can affect any part of the body, it is mostly seen in body folds as well as the areas that are exposed to the sun. These include face, arms, hands, feet, nostrils, back of eyes, inside ears, genitals, etc.. The loss of pigment may also occur in the mouth (mucus membranes) and hair fibers. However, 75% of vitiligo patients experience pigment loss on the face and hands (3).
Types of Vitiligo
Based on the pattern of the patches, vitiligo can be of the following four types:
- Universal Vitiligo: The patches cover almost all skin surfaces.
- Generalized Vitiligo: These widespread patches are seen in many areas of the skin and appear symmetrically on both sides of the body. It is known to be the most common type and continues for a lifetime.
- Segmental Vitiligo: The patches are smaller and appear only on one side or area of the body. It starts at a younger age, progresses slowly, and stops after a year or so.
- Localized (Focal) Vitiligo: The patches appear localized on one or a few areas of the body.
- Acrofacial VItiligo: The patches develop on the face, hands, and around the body openings (eyes, ears, and nostrils).
Risk Factors for Vitiligo
Research has shown that certain factors may increase the risk of vitiligo significantly. Having a family history of vitiligo is the most common one among these. If genes are associated with the disease, such as NLRP1 and PTPN22, you are also vulnerable to developing it. It has also been found that nearly 20% of vitiligo patients have another autoimmune disorder (4). These may include scleroderma, lupus, thyroiditis, psoriasis, alopecia areata, type 1 diabetes, pernicious anemia, Addison’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.
Complications of Vitiligo
Vitiligo primarily has a limited impact on the physical aspects of your health. One notable effect is an increased susceptibility to sunburn, necessitating sunscreen application with a minimum SPF of 30 and sun-protective clothing. While there’s a possibility of encountering eye problems and hearing loss, such occurrences are infrequent.
However, the most significant and challenging complication associated with vitiligo is the social and psychological distress it can cause. Scientific reviews indicate that the condition substantially impacts the relationships of nearly half of the affected individuals.
7 Effective Home Remedies for Vitiligo
While prevention works well for vitiligo, and there are even several medicinal treatments, nothing can be better than natural home cures. They do not produce instant results and need constant application every day over an extended period, lasting up to 2 years to show improvements. But the outcomes will be pretty impressive for sure. So, here are different natural home remedies that may help reduce the severity of the vitiligo patches to a great extent:
1. Turmeric and Mustard Oil
Both turmeric and mustard oil are excellent immunity boosters, and the combination is thought to help re-pigment the skin upon prolonged use. The curcumin in turmeric is an antioxidant that relieves vitiligo (5).
How to Use:
- Mix five teaspoons of turmeric powder with 250 ml. of mustard oil. Store this in an airtight container and apply it to the white patches on your skin twice daily. Make sure that you blend the mixture well before each use.
- Grate around 500 gm. of turmeric root and soak it overnight in 8 lt. of water. The following day, boil the mixture and reduce the volume to (1/8)th. Strain it and add 500 ml. of mustard oil. Keep heating this concoction until it thickens into a thick, oily substance. Apply this to the white patches on your skin every morning and evening.
2. Sweet Basil Leaves and Lime Juice
Sweet basil leaf is considered a potent ingredient in Ayurveda. Its incredible anti-aging and antiviral qualities help cure several skin disorders, including vitiligo. When used repeatedly over six months, this remedy promotes melanin production and relieves the skin condition.
How to Use:
Take a handful of fresh sweet basil leaves and make a paste with the juice of half a lemon. Apply this on the affected areas of your skin thrice every day, especially before taking a bath. Allow it to dry up entirely, and then wash it off. Practice it twice every day for impressive results.
3. Neem Leaves
Neem or margosa leaves are highly efficient in naturally treating vitiligo. They work by healing the underlying cause of vitiligo, thus decreasing the severity of the white patches.
How to Use:
- Take a handful of fresh neem leaves and wash them well. Blend them with some water and pass them through a sieve. Press well to extract all the juice from the crushed leaves. Store it in a bottle. You can drink one glass of this plain neem juice every day.
- Mix two teaspoons of the juice with one teaspoon of honey and drink the concoction thrice daily.
4. Wild Duckweed
Wild duckweed, or ‘Lemna Minor,’ is an aquatic plant with leaves floating on the water’s surface. The plant grows especially in summer and has a high concentration of chlorophyll, which aids in bringing back the original color of the skin by adding pigments to white patches.
How to Use:
Clean a handful of wild duckweed well and make a paste. Strain the juice. Sweeten it with honey if you want, and drink one teaspoon of the concoction twice daily before meals.
5. Red Clay and Ginger
Red clay, mostly found on the riverbed, is also said to be a fantastic remedy for Leucoderma because of its high copper content. At the same time, ginger is rich in phytochemicals, which help reduce discoloration (6). It may also boost blood flow throughout the affected parts of the skin, thereby inducing pigmentation.
How to Use:
Extract the juice of ginger and mix equal parts of red clay with it to form a smooth, lump-free paste. Apply it on your skin’s white patches once daily for visible results.
6. Radish Seeds and Vinegar
Radish seeds come loaded with bioactive compounds and are widely used in India as a natural home cure for vitiligo. When used as a paste along with vinegar, they may help reduce white patches and reverse the symptoms of vitiligo. (7)
How to Use:
Take around 25 gm. of radish seeds and grind them into a fine powder. Add a couple of teaspoons of vinegar to it and soak overnight. Make a smooth paste in the morning and apply it to the white patches on your skin daily. However, do not wash it away immediately. Instead, let it dry for a few hours and gently peel off the scales before rinsing.
7. Babchi Seeds and Tamarind Seeds
Babchi or Takeuchi seeds (Psoralea corylifolia), rich in Psoralen and other phenolic compounds, may combat vitiligo and induce repigmentation (8). When combined with tamarind seeds, babchi is considered one of the best home remedies for this common skin disorder. However, babchi seeds may not suit all skin types and can lead to itching or redness. If you find yourself sensitive to this remedy, choose other options.
How to Use:
Take babchi and tamarind seeds in equal amounts and soak them in plain water for 3-4 days. After that, shell the soaked seeds, dry them thoroughly, and make a paste with water. I am applying it to the white vitiligo patches twice daily for a few weeks.
Though Ginkgo biloba is not a mainstream treatment for vitiligo, the herb may have an excellent positive impact on vitiligo symptoms for its potent anti-inflammatory properties.It also helps in repigmentation by improving the circulation of blood throughout the skin (9).
Other Treatments of Vitiligo
If natural home remedies are not practical for you, talk to your doctor and find the best one from the following treatment options:
- Medical Treatments: These include topical creams (like corticosteroids), prescription oral medications (steroids and certain antibiotics), PUVA (Psoralen and ultraviolet A) therapy, narrowband UVB light therapy, excimer laser therapy, and depigmentation. You must continue such treatments for at least three months to see impressive results.
- Surgical Treatments: When medical treatments do not work, surgical treatments are considered by doctors. The best options are skin grafting, melanocyte transplants, and micropigmentation.
- Other Treatments: Changing your diet, making lifestyle modifications, and managing mental health (10) may speed up the results of your medical or surgical treatments.
Vitiligo or Leucoderma is an autoimmune skin disorder in which the body itself attacks and destroys the melanocytes (pigment-producing cells) in different parts of the skin and causes irregular white patches due to loss of skin pigment. The exact causes of the issue are still unknown but autoimmunity, heredity, severe sunburns, skin trauma, excessive stress, and emotional distress may trigger it. The symptoms of vitiligo first appear on the hands, face, and genitals, and may affect other parts of the body (ears, eyes, nostrils, inside the mouth, hair) gradually. Based on the pattern of the patches, vitiligo can be categorized into Universal Vitiligo, Generalized Vitiligo, Segmental Vitiligo, Localized (Focal) Vitiligo, and Acrofacial Vitiligo. While treatments may restore the color of the troubled part of the skin in vitiligo, it does not prevent the disorder completely. However, natural remedies like turmeric and mustard oil, sweet basil leaves and lime juice, neem leaves, wild duckweed, red clay and ginger, radish seeds and vinegar, babchi seeds and tamarind seeds, and ginkgo biloba may help reduce the severity of the vitiligo patches to a great extent. All you need to do is be consistent with these. If home remedies do not work, you may also try medical and surgical treatments upon doctor’s advice.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is Vitiligo Contagious?
No, vitiligo is not contagious and cannot be transmitted from one person to another. It is not caused by any infectious agent or direct contact with affected individuals.
Can Vitiligo Be Cured Permanently?
Vitiligo is considered a lifelong condition, and there is currently no permanent cure for it. However, adopting appropriate measures from the early stages can help prevent it from worsening and reduce its overall severity. Treatment aims to manage symptoms and, in some cases, promote repigmentation.
How Do You Stop Vitiligo from Spreading?
In adults, topical steroids can be an effective method to halt the spreading of vitiligo patches. These steroids help to suppress the immune response that attacks melanocytes, thus preventing further depigmentation.
What Should I Not Eat in Vitiligo?
Individuals with vitiligo may avoid certain foods that could exacerbate the condition. These include citrus foods, blueberries, fruit juices, fish, curd, coffee, and alcohol. While there is no one-size-fits-all dietary restriction for vitiligo, some people find that limiting certain items may help manage their symptoms.
Is Sunlight Good for Vitiligo?
Sunlight is generally not considered beneficial for individuals with vitiligo. The condition renders the skin more vulnerable to sunburn, and prolonged sun exposure can potentially worsen the depigmentation. Therefore, individuals with vitiligo should take precautions such as using sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) and wearing protective clothing to minimize the risk of sun-related complications.
- “Vitiligo“, MayoClinic.org
- “Hidden Victims of Childhood Vitiligo: Impact on Parents’ Mental Health and Quality of Life,” MedicalJournals.se
- “The Psychosocial Impact of Acne, Vitiligo, and Psoriasis: A Review,” NCBI.nlm.nih.gov
- “Scientists Implicate Gene in Vitiligo and Other Autoimmune Diseases,” NIH.gov
- “Tetrahydrocurcuminoid Cream Plus Targeted Narrowband UVB Phototherapy for Vitiligo: A Preliminary Randomized Controlled Study“, PubMed.NCBI.nlm.nih.gov
- “Various Treatments for Vitiligo: Problems Associated and Solutions,” JAPSOnline.com
- “Plants Used in the Treatment of Leucoderma by the Tribals of Yerramalai Forest of Kurnool District, Andhra Pradesh, India,” researchgate.net
- “Fabrication of Anti-Vitiligo Ointment Containing Psoralea corylifolia: In Vitro and In Vivo Characterization,” NCBI.nlm.nih.gov
- “Effectiveness of Oral Ginkgo Biloba in Treating Limited, Slowly Spreading Vitiligo,” PubMed.NCBI.nlm.nih.gov
- “Effect of Psychological Intervention on Treatment and Quality of Life of Patients with Vitiligo,” books.google.co.in