Is It Safe to Treat Vitiligo in the Winter?
What to Know About Treating Vitiligo
Vitiligo in Winter
Colder temperatures mean dry air and warm interiors, and our skin needs a little extra care to stay moisturized. For people with vitiligo, winter can actually be a good time for skin to be treated for re-pigmentation. Year-round care is necessary to manage the condition, but as with all skin types, wintertime creates some situations that can keep your skin from being in its best condition.
Sunlight and Vitiligo
The UV rays from sunlight both activate vitiligo and can help alleviate it. It’s a question of amount and intensity. Vitiligo is caused when UV rays destroy the pigment-producing cells in the skin, resulting in milky white patches on areas exposed to the sun, including the face, hands, arms, and legs. It usually occurs in children and adolescents after sunburns and extended periods of time in the sun.
A lesser amount of sunlight is good for skin, stimulating production of vitamin D in the body. Vitamin D helps regulate calcium and helps maintain bone health, which is important for our overall immune system because our blood (both red and white cells) is made in the marrow at the center of our bones. A strong central immune system helps our full body health and can help skin tissue heal when damage is done.
Managing Vitiligo in the Winter
When it’s cold outside, you can cover up with your coat, gloves, and scarf to give your skin a rest from potential sun exposure. When it comes to diminishing the discoloration itself, there are some options aside from hiding it. Although there isn’t a cure for vitiligo, many cases are treatable. Makeup is an option for lighter cases of discoloration, but for professional level vitiligo treatment, light therapy and medication are available.
Since minimal exposure to sunlight can be good for your skin and immune system, light therapy for vitiligo may be effective in healing the skin tissue and provoking re-pigmentation as a minimally invasive treatment. Using low-level UV rays, they heat the skin and stimulate the vitamin D reaction that encourages tissue healing. A downside to this option is that it can dry out the skin, and during the winter when dry skin is already an ever present threat, keeping well hydrated and moisturized is key to supporting the process.
Another option for treatment is medication, one of the more effective options being a topical corticosteroid that helps control inflammation, which can prevent normal tissue repair and even damage skin. This topical vitiligo treatment cream has the added bonus of moisturizing as it soothes.
A surgical treatment might be appropriate for your case, where a bit of healthy skin from another part of your body is grafted into a depigmented area. Having this surgery in the winter is an opportunity to have the downtime needed to heal without exposing the area to sunlight from being outdoors.
With an examination, your dermatologist can recommend the best option for you to manage vitiligo this winter. Schedule an appointment with one of our skincare experts to find out which of the vitiligo remedies is the best way to manage and treat your condition.