Vitiligo is an autoimmune condition in which the cells that produce skin pigment are attacked and destroyed, resulting in irregular white patches of skin. Many people who experience vitiligo wonder what they can do about it, and whether their dietary and lifestyle choices can prevent a recurrence or worsening of the condition.
The main sign of vitiligo is patchy loss of skin colour. Usually, the discoloration first shows on sun-exposed areas, such as the hands, feet, arms, face and lips.
Vitiligo signs include:
Patchy loss of skin colour
Premature whitening or greying of the hair on your scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows or beard
Loss of colour in the tissues that line the inside of your mouth and nose (mucous membranes)
Loss of or change in colour of the inner layer of the eyeball (retina)
Vitiligo can start at any age, but often appears before age 20.
Depending on the type of vitiligo you have, the discoloured patches may cover:
Many parts of your body: With this most common type, called generalized vitiligo, the discoloured patches often progress similarly on corresponding body parts (symmetrically).
Only one side or part of your body: This type, called segmental vitiligo, tends to occur at a younger age, progress for a year or two, then stop.
One or only a few areas of your body: This type is called localized (focal) vitiligo.
It’s difficult to predict how your disease will progress. Sometimes the patches stop forming without treatment. In most cases, pigment loss spreads and eventually involves most of your skin. Rarely, the skin gets its colour back.
Despite the nature of the skin problem it can also be prevented when one knowledge of the disease and how it can be eradicated.
Vitiligo occurs when pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) die or stop producing melanin — the pigment that gives your skin, hair and eyes colour. The involved patches of skin become lighter or white. Doctors don’t know why the cells fail or die. It may be related to:
- A disorder in which your immune system attacks and destroys the melanocytes in the skin
- Family history (heredity)
- A trigger event, such as sunburn, stress or exposure to industrial chemicals
People with vitiligo may be at increased risk of:
- Social or psychological distress
- Sunburn and skin cancer
- Eye problems, such as inflammation of the iris (iritis)
- Hearing loss
Natural vitiligo prevention
According to Vitiligo Support International, people with this genetic condition may lack healthy levels of certain nutrients. However, there’s no evidence that eating certain foods could improve or worsen your vitiligo.
Despite this lack of evidence, some people claim to have success with a variety of at-home treatments. Popular topical home remedies include a mixture of lemon and sweet basil extract ginkgo biloba paste a mixture of turmeric and mustard oil.
While there’s no officially prescribed “vitiligo diet,” the best nutritional steps that you can take include eating a healthy diet full of good nutrients and drinking lots of water. And, as with any autoimmune disorder, you may benefit from immune system-boosting foods that contain phytochemicals, beta-carotene, and antioxidants.
Here are some foods that people with vitiligo have cited as helpful for their condition:
Bananas, apples, leafy greens, such as kale or romaine lettuce, chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, root vegetables, especially beets, carrots, and radishes, figs and dates
Vitiligo diet restrictions
Just as there is no prescribed diet for vitiligo, there are no medically recognised foods that worsen the condition, either. However, anecdotal evidence shows that some people experience a negative reaction when they eat certain foods, especially those that contain the depigmenting agents hydroquinone’s. Everyone’s body is different and may react differently to certain foods.
Some of the top problem foods that some people with vitiligo cite are alcohol ,blueberries, citrus , coffee, curds, fish, fruit juice, grapes, pickles, pomegranate, pears, red ,meats, tomatoes and whets products.
Vitamins for vitiligo prevention and treatment
Some vitiligo patients have reported that certain substances, like vitamins and herbs, have appeared to lessen the discoloration of their skin. These substances have not been deemed medically effective as treatments for vitiligo and are only supported by anecdotal evidence:
- vitamin B-12, or folic acid
- vitamin C
- vitamin D
- beta carotene
- ginkgo biloba
- amino acids
Some minerals have also been cited as helpful for preventing vitiligo recurrence, including:
Copper: Many people get a healthy amount of copper by drinking a glass of water out of a copper cup.
Iron: Many people get a healthy amount of iron by eating food that was cooked in a cast-iron skillet.
Zinc: Because many zinc-rich foods are on the restricted list of foods for vitiligo, you may wish to simply ingest you zinc via a supplement.
Vitiligo is often a lifelong condition. Although it can’t be cured, there are measure you can take to potentially treat it and prevent it from worsening, including eating a healthy diet. You should see your dermatologist for expert advice on how your skin will react to vitiligo.