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 totally get you. Growing up with vitiligo is not easy as it sets you apart from others by impacting the self-esteem negatively. But there are certain natural ways that may help you deal with the issue and restore your natural skin color over time. In this article, we will be talking about 7 excellent home remedies for vitiligo that will offer impressive results if you have enough patience to try them.
What is Vitiligo?
‘Vitiligo’ or ‘Leucoderma’ (as it is popularly known) is a skin disease that causes white patches in different parts of the skin. It is an autoimmune condition in which the body itself attacks and destroys the melanocytes (pigment-producing cells) in the skin. This stops the production of melanin pigment in the affected areas of the skin, which lose color or turn white and develop irregular patches. Once vitiligo starts developing, it spreads rapidly and hits a plateau. In many cases, even re-pigmentation occurred after a stable period with the help of sun exposure and home remedies. While treatments may restore the color of the troubled part of the skin in vitiligo, it does not prevent the disorder completely. (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. Apart from being small or large in size, those white patches may also appear in different patterns. 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 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 in size 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 tend to appear on one or a few areas of the body in a localized form.
- Acrofacial VItiligo: The patches develop on the face and hands as well as around the body openings (eyes, ears, and nostrils).
Risk Factors for Vitiligo
Researches have 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 you have genes associated with the disease, such as NLRP1 and PTPN22, you are also vulnerable to develop 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 has only a few physical effects. It makes your skin more prone to sunburn for which you need to apply sunscreen (SPF 30+) and wear sun-protective clothing. You may also experience eye problems and hearing loss but these are rare. However, the most serious complication of vitiligo is social or psychological distress. According to scientific reviews, the condition affects the relationships of almost 50% of patients.
7 Effective Home Remedies for Vitiligo
While prevention works well for vitiligo and there are even quite a few medicinal treatments, nothing can be better than natural home cures. They do not produce instant results and need constant application every single day over an extended period of time, lasting up to 2 years to show improvements. But the outcomes will be quite 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 great immunity boosters and the combination is thought to help re-pigment the skin upon prolonged use. In fact, the active ingredient called curcumin in turmeric is an antioxidant, which has a relieving effect on vitiligo (5).
How to Use:
- Mix 5 teaspoons of turmeric powder with 250 ml. of mustard oil. Store this in an airtight container and apply on the white patches on your skin twice a day. 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 next morning, 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 reduces 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 as a potent ingredient in Ayurveda. It possesses amazing anti-aging as well as antiviral qualities, which help in curing a number of skin disorders including vitiligo. When used repeatedly over a period of 6 months, this remedy promotes melanin production and brings relief from 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 completely and then, wash it off. Practice it twice every day for impressive results.
3. Neem Leaves
Neem or margosa leaves are known to be highly efficient in treating vitiligo in a natural way. 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 a little bit of water and pass it 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 2 teaspoons of the juice with 1 teaspoon of honey and drink the concoction thrice a day.
4. Wild Duckweed
Wild duckweed, also called ‘Lemna Minor’, is an aquatic plant with leaves floating on the surface of the water. 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 out of it. Strain the juice. Sweeten it with honey if you want and drink 1 teaspoon of the concoction twice every day before meals.
5. Red Clay and Ginger
Red clay, which is mostly found on the riverbed, is also said to be an amazing remedy for leucoderma for its high copper content. At the same time, ginger is rich in phytochemicals, which help reduce discoloration (6). It may also boost the flow of blood 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 in order to form a smooth, lump-free paste. Apply it on the white patches on your skin once every day for visible results.
6. Radish Seeds and Vinegar
Radish seeds come loaded with bioactive compounds and hence, 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 every day. However, do not wash it away immediately. Rather, let it dry for a couple of hours and peel off the scales gently before rinsing.
7. Babchi Seeds and Tamarind Seeds
Babchi or bakuchi seeds (Psoralea corylifolia), being 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 be suitable for all types of skin and can lead to itching or redness. If you find yourself sensitive to this remedy, choose other options.
How to Use:
Take both babchi seeds and tamarind seeds in equal amounts and soak them in plain water for 3-4 days. After that, shell the soaked seeds, dry them up thoroughly, and make a paste with water. Applying it to the white vitiligo patches twice every day 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 effective for you, just 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 at least for 3 months to see impressive results.
- Surgical Treatments: When medical treatments do not work, surgical treatments are considered by doctors. The best options available are skin grafting, melanocyte transplants, and micropigmentation.
- Other Treatments: Bringing changes to 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 does not transmit from one person to another and hence, is not contagious.
Can Vitiligo be Cured Permanently?
Being a lifelong condition, vitiligo may not be prevented completely or cured permanently. However, following the right measures from the early stage will help you avert it from worsening as well as reduce its severity.
How Do You Stop Vitiligo from Spreading?
Using topical steroids may effectively stop vitiligo patches from spreading in adults.
What Should I Not Eat in Vitiligo?
If you are suffering from vitiligo, try to avoid the intake of citrus foods, blueberries, fruit juice, fish, curd, coffee, alcohol, etc.
Is Sunlight Good for Vitiligo?
Vitiligo puts your skin at a greater risk of sunburns. Hence, sunlight is not at all good for patients of vitiligo/
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- “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
- “A Review on Vitiligo: Its Causes, Mechanism, and Treatment“, BioAccent.org
- “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