New treatment could be ‘breakthrough’ for vitiligo

The condition affects up to 2 percent of the world’s population, according to the VRF.

Vitiligo is not contagious. But King said people are often concerned when they see people with vitiligo on their hands. He said patients have told him that cashiers sometimes ask them to put money or credit cards down on the counter so they don’t have to touch their hands.

“Vitiligo affects the way the world interacts with you. It can be frustrating and embarrassing, and for some, it leads to clinical depression and anxiety,” King said.

Akter was living in her native country of Bangladesh when her condition first began, and vitiligo carries even more of a stigma there. Some people said unkind things to her.

“I cried a lot. I wanted to be my color again,” she said.

To that end, Akter tried treatment after treatment in Bangladesh and then in the U.S. Some therapies caused intolerable side effects, and none brought the results she was hoping for.

That’s when King suggested she try the new combination therapy.

At the time of treatment, Akter had white patches on about three-quarters of her face. She also had patches on her neck, chest, forearms, hands and shins. She was given 5 milligrams of tofacitinib twice daily, and full body UV-B light therapy twice weekly.

After three months, Akter’s face was almost completely free of white patches. About 75 percent of her neck, chest, forearms and shins were re-pigmented with color. Her hands had only minimal freckling.
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