Vitiligo in Children Dermatologist2019-11-08T17:43:49+00:00

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Vitiligo is a chronic skin condition where your child’s skin can lose its pigment (melanin) resulting in patches of white or pale skin.

IN THESE VIDEOS, I EXPLAIN THE SYMPTOMS AND CAUSES OF VITILIGO – AND HOW TO TREAT IT

In the videos above, I explain things in a simple way that applies to most people who have vitiligo. Of course, no video or website can replace the value of a personalised consultation. At your consultation, you can have your child’s skin carefully examined and get an expert recommendation to help you resolve their condition.

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Treatment helps people of all ages take control of their skin condition and get their life back.

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How does vitiligo impact children on a day-by-day basis?

VITILIGO CAN BE UNPREDICTABLE IN ITS SEVERITY AND DURATION, AND CAN CAUSE A LOT OF DISTRESS

If your child has vitiligo, you’ll notice…

Vitiligo can affect the skin in small patches or might be more widespread. Pale white or pink patches appear on any part of the skin but more commonly on the face, hands, skin creases, and the genital area. Vitiligo patches tend to be painless and non-itchy (asymptomatic). If vitiligo affects the scalp or other hair-bearing skin, the hairs in that area may also turn white.

Vitiligo is an autoimmune condition

Vitiligo is thought to be an autoimmune condition, where the body’s immune system attacks the pigment-producing cells (known as melanocytes), resulting in loss of pigment. Its progression may therefore be difficult to predict. Its uncertain nature may add to the emotional distress that a lot of people experience.

Learning to cope with vitiligo can be difficult

People often feel distressed and embarrassed by their vitiligo, especially if it appears in visible areas such as the face and hands or if there is a sharp contrast with their natural skin colour.

Vitiligo is easy to spot

Some people may look at your child and assume parts of their skin are pale due to sickness or an infectious condition. As vitiligo is often found in highly visible areas such as the face and hands, this can add to the sense of social stigma that they may feel.

Vitiligo can be unpredictable

Vitiligo is unpredictable in the way that it responds to treatment. Sometimes it stabilises while sometimes it spreads, and it is essential to be aware of this and have realistic expectations going into treatment. However, I will always recommend suitable treatments and these can be quite helpful in managing your child’s vitiligo.

What my patients love about my service

MY PATIENTS ARE MY BEST PROMOTERS

Please pass on my thanks to Dr Pratsou for her assessment on my continued taking of roaccutane.

She was completely right, I didn’t need a new course, I needed to move away from the drug. The creams she gave me and Cetaphil recommendation have meant my skin has been the best it’s ever been (ongoing and since I saw her) ALL SUMMER :))))) I’ve had zero problems…and I’m loving it.

Thank you once again.


Phillip, Acne

“Dear Dr Pratsou,

Following the consultation today I feel it appropriate to say thank you for your help in dealing with my rosacea.

On each occasion, I have visited your department I have noticed the kindness and cheeriness of all the staff I have encountered and particularly wanted to say that you made me feel at ease with your calmness and excellent manner.

All is much appreciated.”


Anne, Rosacea

“Thank you very much!!

You three were (and are) a great team!

I will remember you.

You made me feel comfortable.”


Ellie

“Tania,

Please pass to Dr Pratsou my thanks for her skilled work.

The wound is healing beautifully and now the stitches are out it looks as though it will be almost invisible once fully healed.”


Graham, Skin cancer removal

“Dear Dr Penelope, Rena & the team, (I can’t remember the nurse’s name who helped me during my 2 procedures at the Spire!)

I wanted to thank you for your support and help during a very difficult time. You guys do a wonderful job – and we are eternally grateful for your help.”


Clarissa, Skin cancer

“I would like to put on record how impressed I was with the operation you performed for the removal of the SCC on my neck. I cannot even see where the cut or the stitches were! I am indeed very grateful for the excellent work you do.”


Harry, Squamous Cell Carcinoma

“Dear Dr Pratsou,

I am very grateful to you for your diagnosis, recommended treatment and advice. Your letter to my GP sets out both the course of events, and your own analysis of probable condition and possible cause, clearly summarising our discussion.

I hope there will be no recurrence but I will certainly come back to you if there is.”


Ryan, Skin rash

“Dear Tania,

Please pass on my thanks to Dr Pratsou. I saw her this morning for a mole check. She was so lovely and reassuring. Please also thank the two nurses who assisted her during the mole removal procedure. I was very nervous, but they were very efficient, which meant I did not have too long to think about it, but most of all they were very kind. They kept me distracted and calm, which made a huge difference. Thank you also for your efficiency in both booking me in so quickly.”


James, Mole removal
Dear Ms. Pratsou,

I am writing to thank you for the care you have given me in the past few months. From the moment I walked into your consulting room with a lesion on my cheek, a lesion that I fully expected to be some sort of skin cancer (and it was), you have been thorough, reassuring, respectful and in every way professional.

You recognised that I had some insight into the condition of my skin and the procedures required to treat me. You listened to me. You projected expertise and compassion.

During the procedure to remove the growth you ensured that the atmosphere in the treatment room remained not only calm, but actually pleasant. Had it not been that you were excising a growth and sewing me up, I almost felt as if you, me and the nurse were at some sort of women’s discussion group. The time flew by. I had zero anxieties about the procedure and as we both know now, the wound healed flawlessly.

Thank you for your expertise and your communication skills and all round good nature. I feel very lucky.


Karen Tatom, Skin cancer removal

We have replaced the images and names of real patients who provided these testimonials to protect their privacy.

The first step to feeling in charge of your skin is to book an initial consultation

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FEEL IN CHARGE OF YOUR SKIN IN 3 EASY STEPS

STEP 1 – CALL US
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Give us a call on 441183735198 and we’ll help guide you towards a first appointment.

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I’ll see you and examine your skin before I recommend treatment. In some cases, I can begin treating your condition on the same day.

FEEL IN CHARGE OF YOUR SKIN

I’ll guide you down the road towards a resolution of your skin condition so that you can get back to normal life.

More information about Vitiligo

FOR THOSE WHO WANT THE DETAILS

Vitiligo is a chronic skin condition where your child’s skin can lose its pigment (melanin) resulting in patches of white or pale skin.

Vitiligo affects 1% of the population and people of all races equally, though it can be more apparent in darker skin types. Vitiligo affects people of all ages, but at least 50% of vitiligo presents in people who are 20 years of age or less.

Vitiligo can be unpredictable in its severity and duration and can cause a lot of distress.

Pale white or pink patches appear on any part of the skin but more commonly on the face, hands, skin creases, and the genital area.

If vitiligo affects the scalp or other hair-bearing skin, the hairs in that area may also turn white.

An unpredictable condition, vitiligo can affect the skin in small patches or might be more widespread.

Vitiligo may be stable for years but may recur.

People often feel embarrassed by their vitiligo, especially if it appears in visible areas such as the face and hands or if there is a sharp contrast with their natural skin colour.

People with vitiligo tend to sunburn more easily in the affected areas, with patches turning pink.

Patches tend to be painless and non-itchy (asymptomatic).

Vitiligo is thought to be an autoimmune condition, where the body’s immune system attacks the pigment-producing cells (known as melanocytes), resulting in loss of pigment.

Vitiligo can run in families.

Other autoimmune diseases such as thyroid disease are more common in people with vitiligo.

I normally make the diagnosis of vitiligo through clinical examination.

Often, I will advise taking pictures of the affected areas on the first visit to obtain a baseline before attempting any treatments.

I will also conduct a blood test to check your thyroid, blood sugar, vitamin B12 levels, as other autoimmune conditions can occur more frequently in people with vitiligo.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for vitiligo.

Current treatments focus on improving the appearance of the patches and depend on how extensive the effects of the condition is.

I advise patients to protect their skin from the sun with adequate sun protection measures, including protective clothing, wearing a hat and applying sunblock.

In the first instance, I often use strong steroid preparations on the patches affected, aiming to dampen down an overactive immune system.

I also use steroid-sparing preparations called calcineurin inhibitors (for example, Protopic [tacrolimus] 0.1% ointment), especially if steroid creams are not suitable.

In extensive vitiligo, treatment with narrowband UVB phototherapy can help to achieve good results.

Skin camouflage can result in an excellent cosmetic result. I advise using a dedicated service that can colour match to your skin tone (Changing Faces).

Many channels offer psychological support to provide coping mechanisms for people and parents of children with vitiligo.

In exceptional cases, a depigmentation treatment can be used to remove the remaining pigment. This option carries a number of potential risks.

“What can I do? (self-care)”

I would strongly advise that you protect your child’s skin from the sun with protective clothing, a hat, and sunblock.

Sun exposure can lead to the paler patches becoming sunburnt.

It can also result in a higher contrast between skin patches affected by vitiligo and surrounding healthy skin.

“Is there a cure for vitiligo?”

Unfortunately, there is no cure for vitiligo.

Vitiligo is unpredictable in the way that it responds to treatment. Sometimes it stabilises while sometimes it spreads, and it is essential to be aware of this and have realistic expectations going into treatment.

However, I will always recommend suitable treatments and these can be quite helpful in managing your child’s vitiligo.

“Is it too late to get treatment?”

It is never too late to seek advice on vitiligo.

Vitiligo patches respond to treatment best in the first few months, but I can recommend active treatment or other management options at any point.

“Where can I get support for vitiligo?”

After I have diagnosed your child, you can contact the following organisations for patient support:

The Vitiligo Society
Tel: 0800 018 2631
Website

British Association of Skin Camouflage (NHS and private practice)
Tel: 01254 703 107
Email: info@skin-camouflage.net
Website

Changing Faces
Tel: 0300 012 0275 (for support and advice)
Tel: 0300 012 0276 (for the Skin Camouflage Service)
Email: skincam@changingfaces.org.uk
Website

Affiliations and memberships

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Questions and answers

RELEVANT AND INFORMATIVE VIDEOS AND ARTICLES

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.

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