Lecucoderma, also known as vitiligo, is a distressing skin condition. The word literally means ‘ white skin’. There isa gradual loss of pigment melanin from the skin layers which results in white patches. These patches look ugly, especially in persons with dark complexions.
The condition does not cause any organic harm. It , however, brings about great psychological tension to the patient who is more embarassed than the victim of any pain or discomfort. The condition thus, besides being a medical problem, also becomes a social stigma.
Leucoderma is a fairly common disorder and it affects one per cent or more of the world’s population. The incidence is a little higher in India. The disorder can occur at any age in either sex in normal skin. It is, however, more common in women than men. The most affected areas are the hands, the neck, the back and the wrist in that order.
The problem usually starts with a small white spot and later on it develops into patches. These patches are pale in the beginning but become whiter and whiter as time passes due to loss of pigment. As spots enlarge, they merge into each other and, in course of time, form a very broad patch. In some cases, most of the skin of the body may be covered with white patches.
Many wrong beliefs are prevalent about the causes of leucoderma. It is not caused by eating fish and drinking milk at the same time, as is generally believed because even vegetarians suffer from this disorder. Other food combinations such as pumpkin and milk, onion and milk as possible causes of leucoderma also have no basis.
Leucoderma is not caused by any germs ; nor is it due bad blood. It is neither infectious nor contagious. It cannot be transmitted from one person to another by physical contact.
The main causes of leucoderma are excessive mental worry, chronic or acute gastric disorder, impaired hepatic function such as jaundice, worms or other parasites in the alimentary canal, ailments like typhoid which affect the gastro-intestinasm tract, defective perspirative mechanism and burn injuries. Often the hormone secreting glands are involved in this disorder. Heredity is also a causative factor and about 30 per cent of patients have a family history of the disorder.
In nature cure, the treatment of leudoderma consists of adoption of constitutional measures to cleanse the system of accumulated toxins. This enables the healing power within the body to assert itself, and produce normalcy. To begin with, the patient should undertake a fast on juices for about a week. IN this regimen, he or she should take fruit or vegetable juices, diluted with water on 50 : 50 basis every two or three hours from 8.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m. The bowels should be cleansed daily with warm water during this period.
After the juice fast, the patient may adopt a restricted diet consisting of fresh fruits, raw or steamed vegetables and whole meal bread or chappaties. Curd and milk may be added to this diet after a few days. The patient may thereafter gradually embark upon a well-balanced diet of seeds, nuts and grains, vegetables and fruits. The large proportion of the diet should consist of raw foods. Seeds and beans such as alfalfa, mung and soyabeans canbe sprouted. This diet may be supplemented with cold-pressed vegetable oils, honey and yeast. Juice fasting may be repeated at intervals of two months. The patient should avoid tea, coffee, alcoholic beverages and all condiments and highly flavoured dishes. He or she should also avoid sugar, white flour products, denatured cereals like polished rice and pearled barley and tinned or bottled foods.
Certain home remedies have been found useful in the treatment of leucoderma. The best known of such remedies is the use of seeds of psoralea, known as babchi in Hindi. Seeds should be steeped in the juice of ginger or cow’s urine for three days. The fluids should be renewed every day. The seeds should then be rubbed with hands to remove their husks, dried in the shade and powdered. One gram of this powder should be taken every day with fresh milk for 40 days continuously. The ground seeds should also be applied to the white spots.
Babchi seeds, combined with tamarind seeds, are also useful. Equal quantity of both the seeds should be steeped in water for three to four days. They should then be shelled and dried in the shade. They should be ground into paste and applied to the white patches for a week. If the application of this paste causes itching or the white spots become red and a fluid being to ooze out, it should be discontinued. If there is no itching or reddening, babchi seeds should be taken also for 40 days.
Another useful remedy for leucoderma is red clay found by the river side or on hill slopes. The clay should be mixed in ginger juice and applied over the white spots once a day. The copper containedin the clay seems to bring back skin pigmentation and ginger juice serves as a milk stimulant, facilitating increased blood flow to the spots. Drinking water kept overnight in a copper vessel also helps.
A paste made from the seeds of the radish is valuable in treating leucoderma. About 35 grams of these seeds should be powdered in vinegar and applied on the white patches. For better results, seeds should be finely pounded, mixed with a little white arsenic and soaked in vinegar at night. After two hours, when leaves appear, it should be rubbed on the leucoderma patches.
The use of turmeric and mustard oil is also considered beneficial in the treatment of leucoderma. About 500 grams of turmeric should be pounded and soaked in eight kgs. of water at night. It should be heated in the morning till only one kg. of water is left. It should then be strained and mixed with 500 grams of mustard oil. This mixture should be heated till only the oil is left. It should be applied on white patches every morning and evening for a few months.