vitiligo and chemical peels

Vitiligo and Chemical Peels

“I have a patient with vitiligo.  Can I give him or her a chemical peel?”

This is a question that is becoming more and more common in the skin health industry.  Patients with this condition are hoping to find a solution to their uneven pigment. Unfortunately, due to the nature of vitiligo, chemical peels are not the best choice for several reasons:

Vitiligo is an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks its own pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) resulting in areas of depigmented skin.  While the condition itself is benign, its presentation can be devastating, especially for higher Fitzpatrick skin types.

Vitiligo can be triggered by heat and friction, and the application of a chemical peel can create heat, which in turn can exacerbate the very condition you are trying to treat.

Vitiligo  affects roughly 1% of the population. Many times it is left untreated and continues to spread. Because its presentation is on the skin, it makes sense that patients would think that chemical peels would help to “even out” the skin. This, however, is untrue.  Superficial chemical peels are not going to change the color of the remaining pigmented skin to “blend” with the depigmented skin.  And, as mentioned above, because this is an autoimmune disorder, treating it topically with a chemical peel will have little if no effect – at least the effect most patients are hoping to achieve.

There is hope for the vitiligo patient. While chemical peels are not the recommended course of action, there are other prescription medications, therapies and support groups available. Refer the vitiligo patient to a dermatologist who can inform them of the available options.

Empowering these patients with knowledge and resources is an important step in building a lasting and endearing relationship.

Visit this website for more information www.vithappens.com.

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