Many people with vitiligo are self-conscious about their appearance, particularly if the white patches display on their face, neck or hands, and this may make them hesitant to seek help. There are two specific areas where the pharmacist can offer information: the proper usage of sunscreens and the application of skin camouflage products.
Sunscreens absorb or reflect ultraviolet radiation before it reaches the facial skin. However, many sunscreens offer better protection against UVB (short wavelength UV radiation) than UVA (longer wavelength). Because vitiliginous skin is particularly prone to sunburn, there are a variety of sunscreens available on the National Health Service, however, many people who have vitiligo camouflage do not know this. These kinds of products show up in appendix 7 from the British National Formulary (borderline substances) and is particularly within the patient’s interest being informed that sunscreens needs to be used and can be found on prescription.
When a sunscreen is prescribed, it can be important to check that the person is told how, and how often, to make use of it. Sunscreens must be applied liberally and even for good protection, they should be reapplied approximately every hour in the event the person is outside on a sunny day. However, this is usually a problem if the wearer also uses skin camouflage products.
It is additionally necessary to make sure that the person is satisfied with the sunscreen selected from the general practitioner – no sunscreen is useful into a patient should it be not used. For the kids of school age, roll-on sunscreens are particularly useful because they can be self-applied with little spillage or embarrassment. Indeed, they may be considered a “cool” item to obtain in one’s school bag. Many GPs and patients will never be conscious that tinted sunscreens will also be viti1igo on prescription. These will give you both colour and sun protection for your depigmented patches and therefore are particularly helpful for children, or for anybody who wants to disguise the patches but would not feel comfortable using skin camouflage.
Should a person with vitiligo request assistance in selecting in the vast range of non-prescribable sunscreens available, they ought to be advised to use one containing both UVA and UVB protection. When it comes to all people with vitiligo, whatever their ethnic origin, their vitiliginous skin should be treated as type 1 skin (always burns, never tans), which can be typical of people with fair skin, light eyes and freckles. They therefore demand a sun protection factor of 25 or above. Considerations when recommending products include ease of application, staying power, absorption and stickiness.
Should an individual report that she / he always burns, regardless of what sunscreen can be used, the pharmacist should discover how the item has been applied. It is also vital that you find out if the individual is taking drugs for just about any other condition so that you can eliminate any drug-induced photosensitivity. Enquiries about any “health” products being taken will also be useful because a variety of herbs could cause photosensitivity. By way of example, many individuals tend not to realise that for those who have vitiligo, herbal products for example St John’s wort can do more damage than good.