Health Topics

Healthy Living

January 2012
7 pigmentation myths Busted!
Dr Radha Shah
Myth 1
Eating certain foods like those rich in vitamin C or combination of foods like fish and curd causes white patches (vitiligo) on the body.
There is no scientific proof of these concepts over the years. Diet has no role in what causes vitiligo. Dietary restrictions too have no role to play in
its treatment.

Myth 2
Using loofahs, scrubs, pumice stone, etc., will remove the black ‘dirt’ or early pigmentation.
A gentle use of such physical devices can help in the exfoliation of dead skin cells. They can also help in stimulating local circulation; thereby producing glow and keeping the areas of the skin soft. But when done vigorously, they can result in scarring, especially on the
bony areas such as near the elbows, forearms, upper back and below the neck (bathing brush dermatitis). Instead of reducing pigmentation, such practices can increase it.

Myth 3
White patches are incurable.
Today there are many good treatment options (medical and surgical) available. Vitiligo can be treated quite effectively, provided the patient adheres to the medication regime sincerely. Repigmentation can take few days to few months calling for a certain amount patience. Frequent change in treatment is not advisable. For residual lesions, various office-based, simple surgeries can be opted.

Myth 4
Sunscreens are needed only for those spending long hours in the sun; housewives don’t need to apply sunscreens as they normally stay indoors.
Today sunscreen application is an essential part of daily skin care, irrespective of one’s age and occupation. With increasing pollution and ozone depletion, more ultraviolet rays are reaching the Earth, which is the main reason for sun induced skin changes. Sunlight-induced damage is both acute and cumulative, so prevention is better than cure.

Myth 5
If parents have white patches, children will also inherit them.
Only about one-third of the vitiligo patients have a family history of this problem. The exact cause is still not known and various theories have been proposed. The passing of genes is variable and its expression depends on different factors like stress and changes in immune

Myth 6

Treatment of dark patches is long and costly and even ineffective.
Different patients respond differently depending on the duration of the problem, the type of medication, associated illnesses like Hypothyroidism, Atopy, and one’s skin type. Many people respond quickly while some show slow or no improvement with medications. These
need different procedures like chemical peels, microdermabrasion and lasers. The cost of treatment should be discussed with the dermatologist to make it cost effective.

Myth 7
Dark patches, especially Melasma on the face is not treatable.
Melasma is known to respond slowly and recurs in some people due to underlying hormonal problems and stress. However, it can be prevented from recurring by tapering medication and continuing it for long duration (maintenance treatment) as per the guidance of a dermatologist and resorting to intermittent procedures.

Dr.Radha Shah is consultant Dermatologist,Apollo Hospitals,Hyderabad

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