Interview transcription:

In an interview, Penelope Pratsou speaks about the autoimmune condition vitiligo, if it can be prevented and if there are lifestyle modifications to slow it down. 

How can you prevent vitiligo, if possible, and if it’s beginning to form, how can you slow it down?

Penelope Pratsou: Well, unfortunately, at this point in time, we don’t have a way of preventing vitiligo. It is an autoimmune process, and it’s when our immune system goes off on its own and decides to do something that it’s not supposed to.

It’s tricky to know when or if it will start and in which individuals it will. Although sometimes there is a family history of this kind of condition, when it does happen, it can be quite unpredictable. It’s something that is quite difficult for a person with vitiligo to take in, but there are ways of treating the patches that appear.

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Penelope Pratsou: Unfortunately, there isn’t any way of preventing it or slowing it down with lifestyle measures, but we do have treatments that can help.
In terms of prevention, we might not be able to prevent other patches from coming up. But you must protect your skin from the sun because, in those areas of white skin, you lack the pigment-producing cells.

You lack the melanin that protects you from sunburn. It’s important that you use sunblock regularly and also, protective clothing if you can, and that helps prevent sunburn in those areas. But also, it prevents the difference in colour in becoming more obvious, so that’s certainly something that you can do.

If you notice that you have any of the symptoms or conditions that we’ve just discussed, we invite you to book a consultation with Dr Penelope Pratsou. She’ll be able to assess your situation and give you a personalised treatment plan.

About the author

Dr Penelope Pratsou | Consultant Dermatologist

MBChB, MRCP (UK) (Dermatology)

I’m Dr Penelope Pratsou, a skilled independent Consultant Dermatologist based in Berkshire. I have specialist expertise in the diagnosis and management of all skin cancers, and in performing mole checks. I’m a trained skin surgeon and remove skin cancers, moles, skin tags, cysts and warts.

I also have invaluable experience in dealing with all skin conditions, from the common skin complaints of acne, rosacea, eczema and psoriasis, to the rarer and more complex skin problems, having seen it all through years of NHS work.

After I obtained my Membership to the Royal College of Physicians, I undertook rigorous specialist training in dermatology, before being appointed as a Consultant Dermatologist at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading. There, I helped set up and lead a busy clinic for the diagnosis and treatment of suspected skin cancer. I was also actively involved in supervising and training both dermatology and GP trainees.

Alongside my increasingly busy private practice, I have maintained an NHS practice in Oxford in order to continue to engage with challenging cases and to develop my specialist interest in skin allergy.

Learn more about me