What is Leucoderma as per Ayurveda?
Leucoderma, also known as Vitiligo, is a skin disorder characterized by the appearance of white patches on the skin due to the loss of melanin-producing cells. In Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of medicine, Leucoderma is referred to as "Shwitra." According to Ayurvedic principles, the condition is believed to result from the imbalance of the doshas, particularly Pitta and Kapha. Pitta represents the fire element, while Kapha represents earth and water. Imbalance in these doshas leads to the impairment of the skin's natural defence mechanism, leading to the depigmentation seen in leucoderma.
Ayurveda views leucoderma as a complex condition that involves both internal and external factors. The approach to treating leucoderma in Ayurveda focuses on restoring the balance of the doshas and purifying the blood. This is achieved through a combination of internal herbal remedies, external applications, dietary adjustments, and lifestyle modifications. Ayurvedic herbs like Bakuchi (Psoralea corylifolia), Neem (Azadirachta indica), and Haridra (Turmeric) are commonly used in various formulations to promote skin pigmentation and alleviate the symptoms of leucoderma.
What is the main cause of Leucoderma?
Leucoderma is caused by the lack of a pigment called melanin in the skin. Melanin is produced by skin cells called melanocytes, and it gives your skin its color. In vitiligo, there are not enough working melanocytes to produce enough melanin in your skin.
A lack of pigment in your skin (melanin) causes Leucoderma/Vitiligo. The reason why this happens is unknown. Research suggests Leucoderma/Vitiligo could be the result of:
- An autoimmune condition: Your immune system mistakes healthy cells (melanocytes) as foreign invaders like bacteria that can cause harm to your body. This makes your immune system overreact and develop antibodies to destroy your melanocytes.
- Genetic changes: A genetic mutation or a change to your body’s DNA can affect how your melanocytes function. There are over 30 genes that can increase your risk of developing Leucoderma/Vitiligo.
- Stress: The amount of pigment your melanocyte cells produce may change if you experience frequent emotional stress or physical stress on your body, especially after an injury.
- Environmental triggers: Factors like ultraviolet radiation and toxic chemical exposure can affect how your melanocyte cell function.
What are the symptoms of Leucoderma?
Signs and symptoms of Leucoderma include:
- Patches of skin or mucous membranes that lose color. These can appear white or lighter than your natural skin tone.
- Patches of hair on your body turn silver, gray or white.
Symptoms can be mild and only affect a small area of your body or severe and affect a large area of your skin. Some people with vitiligo experience itchy skin before de-pigmentation starts.
Leucoderma may begin as small patches in the skin. With time, these enlarge and merge with other patches over several months. Although they can crop up in any part of the body, the initial patches are usually on the hands, forearms, feet, and face.
Leucoderma and its treatment in Ayurveda
As per Ayurveda, Leucoderma is caused by the imbalance of all the three doshas (Vata, Pitta & Kapha) vitiating Rakta, Mamsa and Medhas Dhatus. Daruna – when doshas vitiates the rakta dhatu (blood), the patches will be red in color. As the discoloration of skin and the patches all over the body start getting noticed by people, the patients get depressed. But they should stay positive as the treatment of vitiligo with Ayurveda has proven to be one of the safest cure methodologies.
Leucoderma treatment in Ayurveda:
Leucoderma ayurvedic treatment uses herbal medicines to cure the disease. Panchakarma therapies like Virechana, Vasti, Dhara, and Vamana are also used in the process as they strengthen the immune system of the body.
- Virechana - Also known as Purgative therapy, this therapy removes the toxicity of your body. Virechana is used for Pitta disorder to cleanse the primary site of the pitta that is the stomach and the small intestine. It is an efficient vitiligo treatment in Ayurveda.
- Basti therapy – It is also called Enema therapy. The therapy purifies the colon where the primary location of Vata nourishes the body. It is one of the best vitiligo treatments in Ayurveda.
- Vamana - Vamana is considered to be the effective vitiligo treatment in Ayurveda for both Pitta and Kapha excess. Vasantika Vamasa (therapeutic emesis in the spring season) can be used for preventive therapy for a disease of Kapha origin such as eczema.
These therapies and medicines have proven to be the most effective natural treatment for vitiligo.
Lifestyle Changes and Diet to follow in Leucoderma:
- Protection of skin from the sources of light - The skin should be protected from sun rays by wearing sunglasses and applying sunscreen.
- Avoid Tattoos - Making a tattoo can cause new patches of skin to appear.
- Avoid Non-Compatible Food- Food items like milk with curd, non-veg food items, salt.
- Food Restrictions: The patient should avoid salty, sour and spicy food.