The condition of vitiligo is something that affects 2% of the population globally. It is basically a visible disorder that leaves white patches on the skin by damaging its natural complexion. The effects are more profound on dark coloured skin. It is obvious therefore that when this affects the skin on the face, it is going to cause severe psychological distress to the individual.
Vitiligo is not well understood in many cultures with some of them thinking it to be some sort of fallout of leprosy or caused due to a sexually transmitted infection. This too adds to the stress on the individual. People tend to slip into depression and lose their confidence to go out and meet people. It is thus necessary to find a cure that can mitigate the condition and provide relief.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for vitiligo but only treatment methods that have been found to provide some relief. The use of monobenzone cream has been identified as a viable line of treatment. Essentially, treatment methods deal with the repigmentation or depigmentation of the affected skin areas. The idea is to mitigate the visual effect of the disorder and create a cosmetically pleasing appearance which will boost the confidence of the individual.
Repigmentation to treat vitiligo
This is done through the use of topical steroids. But the treatment success rate, despite its longer duration has not been found to be very effective. The use of strong steroids over a period of time without significant or dramatic positive results is not something that is sustainable. Use of an immunosuppressant, ultraviolet B radiation, ultraviolet A radiation have also been tried as alternatives without major success, especially in cases where vitiligo is at an advanced stage.
Vitiligo treatment with depigmentation using monobenzone cream
The depigmentation process has been found to be more effective and easier to achieve. This is more so when vitiligo has spread to over 50% of the body. The treatment is aggressive and is undertaken on a case to cases basis due to the irreversible nature of changes it brings about. The skin sensitivity of individuals needs to be taken into account when a cream like monobenzone is used to bring about the depigmentation.
In addition to monobenzone cream, other phenols, systemic agents, lasers and cryotherapy are other options that are used. Monobenzone cream when used in concentrations of 20 to 40% has been found to provide very effective results. It works by bringing about the demise of the melanocytes.
Vitiligo is also treated making use of retinoic acid which is a derivative of Vitamin A. When used along with monobenzone, it has been found to provide synergistic effects and creates depigmentation faster.
Having said the above, some individuals do suffer some side effects of monobenzone vitiligo treatment. This can be in the form of skin irritation, some ocular changes, contact dermatitis to name a few. Skin repigmentation may also occur due to excessive exposure to the sun.
Some countries like the Netherlands have restricted the use of monobenzone cream due to its erratic and irreversible effects, but the US FDA has been allowing it since 1952 for use. In fact, the use of monobenzone as a depigmentation cream goes back all the way to 1930 when it was used extensively for a variety of pigment disorders.