Vitiligo is a common chronic skin disease that is characterized by acquired depigmentation of skin. It affects different populations worldwide and affects different ages and both genders. Its prevalence in China is approximately 1%. Although vitiligo normally does not affect patient¡¯s general health, it often causes significant psychological burden to patient due to its severe cosmetic impact.
Absence of functional melanocytes in the skin is believed to be the underlying mechanism of vitiligo. However, the exact pathogenesis of vitiligo still remains unclear and multiple hypotheses have been proposed including autoimmune mechanism, autocytotoxicity, neural hormone, autocrine dysfunction and genetic association.
Although it is relatively straightforward to diagnose vitiligo, the treatment for vitiligo remains very challenging. There are several treatment options available so far including topical corticosteroid, topical calcineurin inhibitor, phototherapy, laser, surgical therapies such as cellular graft etc. Unfortunately, not all patients respond well to current available treatment modalities.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is achieving breakthrough on vitiligo treatment and should be considered a good alternative. Here, I would like to share with you my case collections using TCM treatment (either topical TCM alone or combination with oral TCM) to treat vitiligo patients. Satisfactory results have been achieved.

Answers to common questions from vitligo patients:

  • Q: Is my vitiligo contagious?
    A: No, vitiligo is not contagious. Therefore it is not necessary to avoid direct skin contact with vitiligo patients.

  • Q: Should I avoid sun exposure?
    A: There is controversy on the effect of sun exposure. My clinical data indicates that sun exposure might be one of the precipitating or aggravating factors for vitiligo and I therefore suggest patients to minimize sun exposure especially to avoid sun burn.

  • Q: Was mental stress the cause of my vitiligo?
    A: Possible. Psychological stresses such as divorce, separation with friends, car accident and etc have been reported as possible precipitating or aggravating factors for vitiligo.

  • Q: Should I avoid certain food?
    A: Foods might have effects in vitiligo. Based on the TCM theory, it is believed that certain foods such as mutton, dog meat, snake, shrimp and crab might potentially worsen patient¡¯s vitiligo condition, although there is no sufficient modern scientific data to support the association.

  • Q: I am currently under your treatment with TCM, should I seek other treatment option if my vitiligo does not improve within a few weeks?
    A: Vitiligo is a chronic disease. It takes time to see results. We usually advise patients give themselves 2-3 months to see the effect of treatment.