Many people with vitiligo are self-conscious of their look, especially if the white patches show on their face, neck or hands, which could make them hesitant to seek help. The two main specific areas wherein the pharmacist offers information: the appropriate utilization of sunscreens and the application of skin camouflage products.
Sunscreens absorb or reflect ultraviolet radiation before it reaches your skin. However, many sunscreens offer better protection against UVB (short wavelength UV radiation) than UVA (longer wavelength). Because vitiliginous skin is especially vunerable to sunburn, there are a number of sunscreens seen on the National Health Service, but some those with cure for vitiligo do not know this. The products happen in appendix 7 of your British National Formulary (borderline substances) which is inside the patient’s interest being informed that sunscreens needs to be used and can be acquired on prescription.
If a sunscreen has been prescribed, it can be important to make sure that the individual continues to be told how, and exactly how often, to utilize it. Sunscreens should be applied liberally and for good protection, they must be reapplied approximately every hour if the individual is outside on the sunny day. However, this is usually a problem when the wearer also uses skin camouflage products.
It is also beneficial to make certain the sufferer is satisfied with the sunscreen selected by the general practitioner – no sunscreen is effective to some patient if it is not used. For youngsters of school age, roll-on sunscreens are particularly useful because they are often self-applied with little spillage or embarrassment. Indeed, they may well be viewed as a “cool” item to get in one’s school bag. Many GPs and patients will not be aware that tinted sunscreens are also viti1igo on prescription. These will provide both colour and sun protection for that depigmented patches and they are particularly great for children, or for anyone who would like to disguise the patches but would not feel safe using skin camouflage.
Should an individual with vitiligo request assistance in picking in the vast range of non-prescribable sunscreens available, they should be advised to utilize one containing both UVA and UVB protection. In the matter of 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 need a sun protection factor of 25 or higher. Considerations when recommending products include simplicity of application, staying power, absorption and stickiness.
Should a client report that he or she always burns, regardless of what sunscreen can be used, the pharmacist should find out how the product is being applied. Additionally it is essential to ask if the sufferer is to take drugs for almost any other condition in order to rule out any drug-induced photosensitivity. Enquiries about any “health” products being taken are also useful because a number of herbs may cause photosensitivity. By way of example, many people will not realise that for people with vitiligo, herbal products including St John’s wort are capable of doing more damage than good.