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Systemic Treatments

It is difficult to find a systemic treatment for vitiligo at the moment (one that affects the whole body). Dr Szczurko et al have looked at ginkgo biloba (BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2011 Mar 15;11:21).  They report on a trial given to twelve participants aged 12 to 35 years old who were treated with 60 mg of standardized Ginkgo biloba two times per day for 12 weeks.

Effectiveness was assessed using the Vitiligo Area Scoring Index (VASI) and the Vitiligo European Task Force (VETF), which are validated outcome measures evaluating the area and intensity of depigmentation of vitiligo lesions. Taking 60 mg of Ginkgo biloba BID was associated with a significant improvement in total VASI vitiligo measures and VETF score spread, and a trend towards improvement on VETF measures of vitiligo lesion area and staging. However, proper clinical trials are needed before this can be generally recommended as a treatment.

Piperine, derived from black pepper, has been suggested as a potential treatment for vitiligo.  So far there have only been studies in animals, which have shown an increase in pigmentation in mice treated with a piperine derivative (Faas et al. British Journal of Dermatology 2008; 158: 941-50).

With regard to cosmetic camouflage treatment, Tanioka and colleagues from Kyoto Japan discovered that this improves quality of life (Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology 2010; 9: 72-5). New European guidelines have been introduced (see Taieb et al. British Journal of Dermatology 2013; 168: 5-19).