The most common treatment offered on the NHS is steroid creams and they are known as corticosteroids. These are creams which are used to treat inflammatory conditions of the skin, other than those arising from an infection. They include such brand names as Betnovate, Cutivate, Dermovate and Synalar.
Vitiligo is considered to be an ‘autoimmune’ condition, in which the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues. Steroid creams can stop this happening and therefore stop the progress of vitiligo. They are classified as mild, moderately potent, potent or very potent. The doctor will generally prescribe the least potent cream that will treat the condition.
Treatment probably involves having a trial period of using the cream of up to two months. This is to make sure that there are no side effects. The usual procedure is to use the cream for six to eight weeks and then start the cream again after a break. It may be used for longer under close supervision.
The cream or ointment must be applied to the white patches of your skin thinly. It is important that you follow the instructions you have been given carefully. You also need continue with the treatment for some time (at least three months) before any results are likely to be seen.
The advantages and disadvantages of steroid creams
- Steroid creams are simple to use and a treatment you can do at home.
- Creams are quite safe, so long as instructions are followed.
- Steroid creams can be quite effective, especially with new areas of vitiligo, but they do not work for everyone.
- Overuse can lead to side effects such as skin shrinkage or stretch marks.