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New Medication for Vitiligo Patients Showing Promise

December 27, 2023

By Terri Russell

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Natalie Amys says she noticed the skin on her forehead, around her mouth and nose changing after seeing herself on Zoom calls.

“I started noticing some pretty prominent white spots on my face,” says Natalie. “I initially thought it was reflections from the ring light. Once I shifted, I actually realized I’ve lost pigment in my face.”

A special light called a Wood’s Lamp would underscore what Natalie was seeing.

It wasn’t her imagination. In a picture taken with a Wood’s Lamp, white patches can be seen.

She was diagnosed with a skin condition called Vitiligo.

“It’s a de-pigmentation disorder where the skin lacks pigmentation,” says Dr. Cindy Lamerson M.D. with the Nevada Center for Dermatology. “It is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks little cells that make color to our skin.”

The skin disorder can impact patients of any race, age, or gender. Dr. Lamerson says sometimes it can stay in certain parts of the body, or spread, or even go away after a time.

Model Winnie Harlow has made a career looking different highlighting her Vitiligo and speaking about it whenever she can.

But other patients aren’t as bold. In fact, they are on the other end of the spectrum.

“People are really quite embarrassed by their white de-pigmentation,” says Dr. Lamerson. A new drug initially used on Atoptic Dermatitis is now being used to treat mild to moderate forms of Vitiligo.

Called Opzelura, it stops the body from attacking the cells that make color in the skin.

The cream is applied two times a day. Results are gradual taking four to six months for results.

“I do have insurance through my employer and covered it completely,” says Natalie.

Which was welcome news for a Natalie whose Vitiligo is neither contagious nor life threatening. It may not be to the rest of us, but Vitiligo is obvious to her.

Opzelura, she hopes will make it less so.

View the article on KOLO News 8

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