Different seasons can affect our skin in various ways, and extreme conditions tend to yield the most extreme outcomes. Winter, for instance, often contributes to dry skin, rashes, irritation, and more. And if you already suffer from a chronic skin condition, the cold weather can cause your symptoms to flare up. Vitiligo, a condition that causes skin pigmentation loss in certain regions of the body, can worsen during the winter months. Fortunately, there are many ways to treat vitiligo -- though you might wonder whether winter also has implications on the safety and efficacy of your vitiligo treatments.
Let’s explore the connections between vitiligo and winter to determine whether or not it’s safe to treat this condition during winter.
People may see an increase in their vitiligo symptoms (e.g., loss of skin color in patches, premature loss of hair color, etc.) during winter for multiple reasons. For starters, research indicates a likely connection between vitiligo and sun exposure -- simply put, too much or too little sun can exacerbate symptoms. Many people in the U.S. get most of their sun intake during the warmer months. Once winter enters the scene, the days get shorter, and people tend to stay indoors and bundle up, resulting in a decline of sun exposure. Ultimately, this lack of sun may cause vitiligo to encroach on additional parts of your skin during winter.
Vitiligo can also worsen in winter due to seasonal changes in behavior. The colder, darker atmosphere can lead to a lack of motivation across the board. As a result, you might not take such great care of your skin or overall health during winter. If this is the case, there’s a good chance your vitiligo (and other skin and health concerns) will flare up.
So, vitiligo can worsen in winter. What does this mean for your treatment options? If anything, your dermatologist might recommend you take a more aggressive approach to your vitiligo treatment regimen during winter to counteract the lack of sunlight. Indeed, doing your best to soak up a bit more sun during the winter may help ease your vitiligo as well, but be careful not to overdo it. It’s also important to keep your skin hydrated and supple by moisturizing daily.
Whether winter, spring, summer, or fall, you have more than one option when it comes to treating your vitiligo directly. Anti-inflammatory vitiligo creams and corticosteroids are among the most common treatments. Dermatologists might also prescribe immunosuppressants and calcineurin inhibitors for those with severe vitiligo. There is also laser and light therapy for vitiligo, wherein specific wavelengths of light energy are directed at the skin to potentially stimulate collagen and reduce the prominence of pigmentation loss. Patients might also consider micropigmentation (essentially a tattoo that matches surrounding skin color) or skin grafting surgery.
All of these vitiligo treatments are viable regardless of the season. That said, environmental conditions may affect the effectiveness of a given treatment. Your dermatologist can provide you with far greater detail regarding potential side effects and other warnings for each method.
Is it safe to treat vitiligo in the winter? The answer is a resounding yes. In fact, it’s important not to lose sight of skin care during winter, as difficult as it can sometimes be. If you’re concerned about your vitiligo and/or your skin’s overall health during winter, the experts at Premier Dermatology Partners can help. Our team consists of professionals with plenty of experience treating vitiligo and other skin conditions -- plus, we can refer patients to a specific vitiligo specialist if necessary.
To learn more about our providers and all the services we offer, contact us today.