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What should I know about depigmentation therapy?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Depigmentation therapy is one treatment option for a condition called vitiligo. This disorder causes patches of skin to lose pigment or color. Skin affected by vitiligo turns a lighter shade or may even become white.

There are several treatments for vitiligo. In rare cases, some people with this condition who want their skin to be one color choose depigmentation therapy. This treatment involves applying cream to the skin that removes pigment. Depigmentation therapy can take several years.
The most important thing to realize about depigmentation therapy is that, unlike many other skin therapies for vitiligo, depigmentation is permanent. It is usually used by people who have many large skin patches already from their vitiligo; it's opposite to the other therapies as well in that it doesn't aim to restore color to skin patches. Rather, it aims to make the color of the rest of your skin the same as that of the skin patches. Depigmentation can make your skin much more sensitive to the sun, so this therapy means that people who use it will need to be very careful about sun exposure for their whole lives. The effects cannot be reversed. The medication used in the therapy is called monobenzyl ether of hydroquinone, and it is important to avoid skin contact with other people for at least two hours after you have each treatment in case the drug rubs off on their skin, as well.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.