Sunday, July 15, 2012


Sandalwood paste has been used in India for centuries to heal and improve the skin. It has anti-inflammatory properties, and would be worth trying as an ointment on vitiligo.
A simple paste can be made by mixing sandalwood powder with a little rose water. Sandalwood (chandan) powder is available in some Indian shops and ayurvedic supply stores, but beware of cheap imitations with harsh chemical perfumes added. Sandalwood oil could also be used, but 100% pure sandalwood oil is very expensive and often hard to find. The sandalwood oil could be diluted with coconut oil before applying.

Kailash Jeevan multipurpose ayurvedic cream (also available in some Indian shops) contains pure sandalwood oil in a soothing coconut base. The cream also contains natural camphor.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Nourish your melanocytes

Melanocytes are the body's pigment producing cells, found in the skin, hair roots, and eyes. Vitiligo is caused by the destruction of these cells, hence the importance of nourishing them.
"The most important minerals [for melanocytes] are iron and copper, as well as vitamin C and protein, particularly the amino acid tyrosine,” says David Salinger, director of the International Association of Trichologists.
“In fact, some trichologists give patients tyrosine [supplements] to see if it will help the pigment, and sometimes it does.”
But, he says, it only works if there is a nutritional deficit that needs correcting.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Vitiligo and gluten intolerance

The amount of gluten in our diet is greater than that of our ancestors. Part of the reason for this is the replacement of traditional wheat strains with new ones containing higher amounts of gluten.
These days we eat not only bread, but breakfast cereals made from wheat, and processed foods with gluten added to them. Even pharmaceuticals and shampoos contain gluten.
Some people who have both vitiligo and gluten intolerance, and have gone on gluten free diets have noticed that their white patches have reduced in size or even disappeared.
Here's a link to an interesting article about Vitiligo, celiac disease and gluten intolerance:
vitiligo and gluten intolerance

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Antioxidant therapy

The rationale for this approach rests on the hypothesis that vitiligo results from a deficiency of natural antioxidant mechanisms. Although to date (2008) not validated by a controlled clinical trial, selenium (a mineral), methionine, tocopherols (vitamin E), ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and ubiquinone (Co-enzyme Q10) are prescribed by some physicians. This is in addition to vitamin B12 and folic acid.

Food sources:

Selenium - brazil nuts, other nuts, meats, fish, eggs.
Ubiquinone - meats, vegetable oils (soy, olive and grapeseed)
Methionine - eggs, brazil nuts, sesame seeds, meats, fish
Tocopherol/vitamin E - vegetable oils, nuts, green leafy vegetables
Ascorbic Acid - acerola, rose hips, chili pepper

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Foods That are Good for Your Skin

Recent research has identified the following foods as having benefits for the skin. Extracts from these foods may be applied topically, and or you can include them in your diet.

Pomegranate (including seeds)
Pomegranate is rich in ingredients that enhance the beauty and life of skin. It is a good source of ellagic acid and antioxidants, which are helpful in destroying free radicals. Pomegranate seed oil for skin can be considered as an 'elixir of youth' as it contains punicic acid, an omega 5 conjugated fatty acid, which is effective in cell regeneration and proliferation. This considerably delays the process of aging. Moreover, it is also rich in compounds such as phytoestrogen and a rare plant-based source of CLA. 
You can drink the Pomegranate juice or it can be applied topically. There are several cosmetic formulations that include an extract of pomegranate juice or oil.

Update: please read the comments to this post on the inhibiting effect ellagic acid has on melanin production.

Apple (contains quercetin, which soothes the skin)
Coconut soothing and protective
Green tea (contains high levels of antioxidants)
Broccoli (an extract made from broccoli sprouts has been found to protect skin from inflammation and cancer)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Microskin on Oz - Vitiligo, Birthmark, Scar, Burn

Different types of Vitiligo

There are different types of vitiligo, and what is not commonly understood is that the prognosis and treatment outcomes for each are different. 
The two main types are segmental and non-segmental, and they may be two quite different disease processes. Segmental vitiligo can appear anywhere on the body, usually in a clearly defined patch or segment; whereas non-segmental vitiligo has symmetry, appearing on both hands and both feet, and around both eyes, for example. 
I have non-segmental vitiligo, which seems to be unfortunately much harder to cure than segmental vitiligo, in most cases. I know several people who have had the segmental form and had full re-pigmentation after treatment with UV light and creams. 
Not realising that non-segmental vitiligo is a different condition, and very difficult to cure, they seemed to think I was not doing enough to treat the problem. This, of course, does nothing for one's self-esteem.

Another form of vitiligo affects the mucous membranes. It's possible to have more than one type of vitiligo at the same time, so diagnosis can be very complicated. 

It's important to understand the differences between the types of vitiligo so that expectations for treatment are realistic. My skin specialist told me bluntly that vitiligo is incurable and I would just have to put up with it. He did not tell me which type I had or that segmental vitiligo has a better prognosis.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Tyrosine is an amino acid that is involved in the production of melanin, the pigment that gives colour to the skin and hair. 
I was browsing in a health food shop recently, and noticed a bottle of this supplement which claimed on the label that it is helps with skin pigmentation. I have not found much evidence on the web that Tyrosine has improved pigmentation in vitiligo cases, but if anyone has noticed an improvement from it I would be grateful to get a comment.
It's usually better (and probably cheaper) to get these molecules by eating the right foods rather than buying supplements. 
Food sources of Tyrosine are:
soy products, chicken, turkey, fish, peanuts, almonds, avocados, milk, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, lima beans, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds. (these are high protein foods).
Studies have shown that Tyrosine is useful for treating stress. Since vitiligo appears to be worsened by stress, this could be another reason to make sure your Tyrosine levels are adequate.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Massaging the scalp with coconut oil has long been used as a therapy for greying hair.

Coconut Oil, being very stable and highly resistant to oxidation, helps protect against free-radical generation. It also protects other oils from oxidizing, thus reducing their acidifying effects. 
In addition, coconut oil enhances the body's absorption of calcium and magnesium, both of which are alkalizing minerals. Coconut oil, there fore, has an alkalizing effect on the body. Coconut meat and milk are also alkalizing. Coconut contains many enzymes like monitol, albumin, catalase, oxydase, lignin and tartaric acid. 

A shortage of catalase, a common enzyme found in nearly all living organisms, has been recently found to be the main culprit in causing grey hair. The role of this enzyme is to catalyse the conversion of hydrogen peroxide to water and oxygen. 
Your hair needs the following nourishment:
  • Vitamin A - vitamin A is necessary for promoting a healthy scalp and gives body and glow to your hair. Include dark green vegetables and orange & yellow fruits & vegetables in your diet.
  • Vitamin B - vitamin B regulates the secretion of oil, keeps hair healthy & moisturized. Eat more of fresh green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, cauliflower, cereals, liver kidney, yogurt, bananas and green vegetables.
  • Minerals - minerals like zinc, iron & copper promote healthy hair. Food sources: zinc - red meat, chicken & green vegetables; iron - beef, dried apricots, red meat, parsley, eggs, wheat & sunflower seeds; copper - seafood, egg yolk & whole grains.
  • Proteins - consuming more of protein gives your hair natural shine and good texture. Include more of sprouted whole grains, cereals, meat and soy in your diet.

Catalase works closely with superoxide dismutase to prevent free radical damage to the body. SOD converts the dangerous superoxide radical to hydrogen peroxide, which catalase converts to harmless water and oxygen. Catalases are some of the most efficient enzymes found in cells; each catalase molecule can convert millions of hydrogen peroxide molecules every second. 
Oral supplements are available for SOD, catalase, and glutathione peroxidase; however, these substances may be digested in the intestine before they ever reach the bodily tissues. Giving the body extra amounts of the building blocks it requires to make these natural antioxidants, such as manganese, zinc, copper, and selenium, may be a more effective way to increasing their presence in the body.

Free Radicals

Hydrogen peroxide is a free radical that causes cell damage through oxidisation. Research has discovered high levels of this free radical in the skin of vitiligo patients.
It would therefore make sense for people with vitiligo to ensure that their diet contains good amounts of anti-oxidants.
Foods rich in anti-oxidants are:
Berries, tomatoes, carrots, spinach, red grapes, whole grains, soy, broccoli, garlic, and tea.
(Consume soy in moderation, as it contains xenoestrogen, and excessive estrogen has been linked to pigmentation problems).


Leucoderma (vitiligo) is generally considered to be an auto-immune disease (the body attacks it's own cells through a faulty immune system).
Auto-immune diseases appear to be worsened by stress.
The American actot Jon Hamm has developed vitiligo on his hands; something he attributes to the stress of working on the series Madmen.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hydrogen peroxide

Higher than normal levels of Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) in the skin has been linked to depigmentation. Catalase seems to protect the melanin producing cells from oxidation damage caused by excess H2O2. This is the principle behind the use of pseudocatalase cream. 
I wondered if there was some way of increasing the catalase in the body through diet, and I found some info.
Here's a link: emilys vitiligo part 11

A study published in Nature found that hydrogen peroxide plays a role in the immune system. Scientists found that hydrogen peroxide is released after tissues are damaged in zebra fish, which is thought to act as a signal to white blood cells to converge on the site and initiate the healing process. When the genes required to produce hydrogen peroxide were disabled, white blood cells did not accumulate at the site of damage. The experiments were conducted on fish; however, because fish are genetically similar to humans, the same process is speculated to occur in humans. The study in Nature suggested asthma sufferers have higher levels of hydrogen peroxide in their lungs than healthy people, which could explain why asthma sufferers have inappropriate levels of white blood cells in their lungs.

Phenols and Polyphenols

Here's a link to an article about the effects of phenols and polyphenols on the condition:


I just saw a report on Deutsche Welle health program about the use of pseudocatalase cream combined with short duration UVB exposure. The Insitute for Pigmentary Disorders, in Greifswald, Germany, has had good results with this treatment. Their website says that natural catalase cannot penetrate the skin, and not to trust the effectiveness of creams containing natural catalase. They also advise patients not to consume turmeric, as it can prevent the pseudocatalase from working. Turmeric has a lot of health-giving properties, so this is a shame.
Another piece of advice was that people with vitiligo are more at risk of getting skin cancer, and should have a full skin examination once a year.

Here's a link to the Institute website (obtained from the DW website).

A forum thread on this topic:

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Liver

A recent commenter on the blog reminded me of the importance of keeping the liver in a healthy state, for healthy skin and general health. The liver removes toxins from the body, and if we continually abuse it with fatty foods, alcohol and painkillers, our skin will suffer. 
It is said: "We live as long as our liver allows".
Fried foods are particularly bad for the liver as they contain fats damaged by high temperatures. Eating fruit and vegetables, and drinking plenty of water, helps to prevent the liver from becoming overloaded with toxins.
There are also many herbal supplements that tone the liver.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Babchi (also known as Bavachi, Bakuchi. Botanical name: Psoralea corylifolia), is a herb used in Ayurveda. It contains psoralens which stimulate the pigmentation process when combined with sun exposure. Care should be taken with dosage or burning and blistering can result in some people. It can be taken orally or applied topically. Some people report stomach upset after taking Babchi orally, others have said that over time their stomach became used to the herb.
The powder from the seed is used to treat leucoderma internally. It is also applied in the form of paste or ointment externally.
Babchi is often used in combination with neem oil.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Psychological Aspects

Vitiligo does not produce any physical symptoms, except for slightly more sensitive skin, in my case. Compared to eczema, with its often unbearable itching, and other chronic skin conditions, vitiligo is quite benign. However, the psychological impact can be devastating for some people.

I have had the condition (mainly on the hands and face - the parts you can't cover with clothing) for several years. I've found that, though it was quite depressing when I first realised what was happening, I worry less and less about it over time. The depigmentation seems to have slowed down a lot and maybe even stopped, but I can''t say I know why. I suspect it has a lot to do with avoiding stress and eating as much fruit and veg as possible. I take a vitamin B supplement, so this may  be helping too. Vitamin B seems to help with stress.

I've even discovered some positives: firstly it's encouraged me to look after my general health, and secondly I've found that it has become a useful way of quickly discerning the nature of others. Some people can be ill-mannered about the appearance of your skin, others treat you as they would any other person. The vitiligo has becomes an invaluable tool with which to discover immediately those people who are worth your time and those who are not. It's not about being judgmental, it's just that life is tough enough without surrounding oneself with judgmental people.

The condition has actually taught me to judge others less on superficial criteria, and to try to find the qualities that matter inside others and myself.


Vitiligo is known in Ayurveda as "Shwitra" or "Kilaas". The ancient texts clearly mention that this condition is not contagious, and does not cause symptoms like other skin diseases.

Traditional Ayurvedic formulations which are useful in this condition are: Arogya Vardhini, Trivanga Bhasma, Mahamanjishthadi Qadha (decoction), Khadirarishta, Krumikuthar Rasa, Krumimudgar Rasa, Saarivasav and Rasa Manikya. Herbal medicines useful for vitiligo are: Manjishtha (Rubia cordifolia), Saariva (Hemidesmus indicus), Triphala (Three fruits), Haridra (Curcuma longa), Daruharidra (Berberis aristata), Khadir (Acacia catechu), Vidanga (Embilia ribes) and Bavachi (Psoralia corylifolia).
Bavachi has a special place in vitiligo treatment. It is applied on the skin in the form of a paste or oil, and the affected skin parts are exposed for a few minutes to the mild rays of the sun, at particular times of the day. It is also given for oral consumption in the form of powder or tablets. Some physicians prefer to give this medicine in gradually increasing doses for a few weeks, and then taper it gradually.
Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri), Jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi), Vacha (Acorus calamus) and Shankhpushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis) are useful to reduce stress. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus), and Yashtimadhuk (Glycerrhiza glabra) are useful to correct the disturbed immune system.

Treatment for this condition is long-term, and may take anything from three to eighteen months. The duration of treatment may not be proportional to the extent of skin involvement, probably because of a disturbed immune system. For example, some persons with widespread vitiligo may respond very fast, whereas others with a few skin patches may respond slowly.

Diet: Ayurveda recommends avoid oranges, sweet lime, sea food, excessive salt, and sour or fermented food products.

Source article

Aloe Vera

People with vitiligo (hypopigmentation) may also get dark spots (hyperpigmentation) around the vitiligo patches. Dark spots - usually appearing on the face - are common in women, and are caused by a rise in oestrogen levels. Some people have found aloe vera gel (organic is best) to be effective in evening out discolorations in skin complexion. 
Aloe vera is generally healing for the skin. I haven't read any reports of it's effectiveness in treating vitiligo but, as its healing properties for the skin are well recognised, it makes sense to use it as a natural skin rejuvenator.

Aloe vera is used to help heal burns, and as depigmented skin is vulnerable to sunburn, it would be useful in the summer.

The best way to use aloe vera is to grow one or more plants at home if possible, breaking off leaves as needed and using them immediately by splitting open the skin of the succulent leaf to express the pulp inside. Apparently the more mature outer leaves are best. Aloe vera is usually applied topically, but drinking aloe vera juice can also sooth inflammation in the digestive tract and skin. Organic aloe vera products are available in health food stores, and increasingly in supermarkets. 
New aloe plants can be easily propagated by breaking off an outer leaf, allowing the break to dry out, then planting it in a well draining soil. Aloe vera is a succulent plant and should not be overwatered. It does well in pots.

Read more about Aloe vera here

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Vitamin D and Vitiligo

Researchers have found a link between autoimmune diseases and vitamin D deficiency. Since Vitiligo/Leucoderma is generally considered to be an autoimmune illness, people with the condition should consider getting tested for Vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency. Vitaman D-3 is the most important form of vitamin D for human health. It's difficult to get sufficient Vitamin D from food. We produce most of our requirement in our skin during exposure to the sun. People with Vitiligo often avoid sun exposure, because their depigmented patches lack melanin to protect them from sunburn and the risk of skin cancer (also, the tanning effect of sun exposure increases the contrast between the white patches and the normal skin, and thus increases the noticeability of the vitiligo) but completely avoiding sun exposure means you are almost certainly not getting enough vitamin D, which could make your condition get worse. The length of sun exposure needed to make enough vitamin D depends on the amount of melanin in your skin, and the amount of solar radiation where you live, but generally 20 minutes of sun exposure each day is enough. Dark-skinned people may need longer exposure. Any part of the skin can do the job; so if you want to protect your face from tanning you can cover it and expose your legs, for example.