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  5. Vitiligo On Lips – Causes, Treatments & Useful Tips

Are the pale white patches appearing on your lips a sign of vitiligo? Also known as leucoderma, this skin condition can affect any part of the body, including your hair and even the inner side of your mouth.

While vitiligo is not life-threatening, it tends to trigger emotional stress, especially when present on the face or lip. Read on to know how to deal with those patches on your lips and make yourself feel better.

What Are The Early Signs Of Vitiligo On Lips?

In most cases, vitiligo on lips starts with small patches of discolored skin. Though these white patches can appear anywhere on your lips, it usually occurs on the lateral lower lip. A few small white patches appear initially and then gradually spread over different parts of the body.

The time of spread varies significantly in different people and may range from several months to even years. Several factors are known to contribute to its cause and spread.

When vitiligo starts with the face, it can appear on any part, such as lips, eyes, cheeks, forehead, chin, ear lobe, and even the inner ears.

Localized vitiligo starts with small patches. Sometimes, white patches can appear just on the lips and genitals. This condition is called mucosal vitiligo. When you have white patches just on your lip and the fingertips, it is called lip-tip vitiligo.

What Causes Vitiligo On The Lips?

While the exact cause of vitiligo isn’t definite, multiple environmental and genetic factors can trigger this skin condition. Here are some of the common factors causing the condition.

1. Autoimmune Disorder

Here, the immune system of the affected person may develop antibodies that attack the melanocytes and destroy them. Destruction of the melanocytes stops melanin production causing depigmentation on the skin. This can ultimately lead to vitiligo.

2. Genetics

A study on The genetics of vitiligo conducted on 150 affected people showed that genetic factors play a significant role in the etiology of vitiligo. About 30% of people with this skin condition have a family history [1].

3. Infections

Some viral or bacterial infections like syphilis, leprosy, lichen planus, etc., can also trigger this skin condition.

4. Neurogenic Factors

A study titled Potential role of neurogenic inflammatory factors in the pathogenesis of vitiligo in 2012, showed that neurogenic factors like neuropeptides and other nerve growth factors play a critical role in emotional response. These neurogenic factors can also be toxic to melanocytes. It can lead to the onset and development of vitiligo in prone individuals.

5. Self-Destruction

Sometimes, melanocyte defects can stop melanin synthesis leading to vitiligo.

6. Occupational Hazards

Some jobs demand continuous exposure to certain chemicals, UV radiation from the sunlight, etc. Such external factors can trigger vitiligo.

How Does Vitiligo Occur On Lips?

The skin color of your body is determined by melanin[2], a pigment produced in your cells. Vitiligo occurs when the melanin-producing cells called melanocytes [3] die or stop functioning.

A Vitiligo Lateral Lower Lip study conducted on 118 vitiligo patients of South Orissa showed that 16.39% of all vitiligo patients suffer from lateral lower lip vitiligo.

This can occur due to autoimmune conditions, heredity, or other factors. In the absence of the pigments that give your lip its natural color, white or pale patches start appearing.

There is no fixed area for developing vitiligo patches. It can start from your lip or surrounding areas, or you may experience white patches first on other body parts and then on your lips.

Treatment Of Vitiligo On Lips

Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment that can cure vitiligo. Hence, the focus of all methods is to minimize the visible color difference. There are mainly two ways of cover-up. These include repigmentation or depigmentation.

When your concern is related to the discoloration of your lips, you can go for any of the following methods. But don't forget to consult your dermatologist first.

1. Medical Treatments

When vitiligo on lips is the only concern, micropigmentation[4] is an effective solution. This is a kind of tattooing that is applied to the lips to cover up the vitiligo patches. Micropigmentation is a safe and effective treatment option for vitiligo of lips.

Medical Treatments

Excimer laser therapy and narrowband UVB treatment are also considered effective solutions for localized vitiligo. Both the methods can be effective for patients with vitiligo on lips or localized, small vitiligo patches.

Did You Know?

Wearing a lip balm containing sunscreen can help prevent the uneven tone of your lip from worsening. You can go for a lip balm with an SPF of 30 for optimum results.

2. Skin Creams

There are some options to camouflage the white patches on your lip. Some creams or ointments also help to restore the colors of the vitiligo patches on your lips.

Skin camouflage creams:

These creams are formulated to match your natural skin color. Applying these creams helps blend the white patches with the rest of your skin and keeps them unnoticeable. Waterproof camouflage creams can be used anywhere on the body. Creams containing Dihydroxyacetone are good for your skin.

women without vitiligo

Topical steroid creams or ointments:

These creams can even pause the spread of the white patches and may restore the original skin color in affected areas. You can consult your dermatologist for a suitable topical steroid for your condition. Fluticasone propionate, betamethasone valerate, hydrocortisone butyrate, etc., are the common steroids that doctors prescribe.

3. Home Remedies

There are also some home remedies for vitiligo. Though no scientific study supports these remedies, people believe that a mixture of lemon and sweet basil extract and a mixture of turmeric and mustard oil can help reduce the spread of vitiligo. Ginkgo biloba is a herbal plant, and its oral intake or application of its paste can show a positive impact on vitiligo patients [5][6].

Some fruits and vegetables are considered helpful for this condition too. These include apples, bananas, leafy greens like romaine lettuce, chickpeas, root vegetables such as beets, carrots, figs and dates.

Note :

Some vitiligo patients have reported that specific vitamins like vitamin B-12, vitamin C, vitamin D, and beta carotene can help lessen skin discoloration. Similarly, minerals like copper, iron, and zinc can prevent the spread of vitiligo.

Does Vitiligo On Lips Spread?

Usually, vitiligo patches spread to other parts of the body. White patches can thus appear on many parts of the body like the cheek, chin, forehead, inside the mouth, nose, chest, back, abdomen, genitals, etc. In extreme cases, vitiligo can spread all over the body and create an even discoloration throughout.

How Do You Prevent Vitiligo From Spreading On Lips?

In general, vitiligo is unpredictable. It is hard to say whether the patches will remain localized or spread to other body parts. But some measures and behavioral changes may help prevent spreading and make you feel better.

  • According to some knowledgeable and board-certified dermatologists, here are some tips to prevent vitiligo from spreading[7]:
  • Minimize your exposure to the sun and to UV rays
  • Use sunscreen when you are outside or wear fully covered clothing to hide your skin as much as possible from the sunlight
  • Say a big ‘NO’ to tanning beds or sun lamps
  • Support your immune system with a healthy diet and lifestyle

SkinKraft Tip:

When choosing colors to cover up vitiligo patches, go for camouflage makeup, self-tanner, or skin dye. These products are comparatively safe to use, last longer than ordinary makeup and help to get a better look. Waterproof and dihydroxyacetone-containing camouflage makeup is a durable and good option.

When To Consult A Dermatologist About Vitiligo?

It is always wise to consult a dermatologist from the start. Visit a board-certified dermatologist, who can suggest the right way to prevent, minimize, or camouflage your vitiligo patches. Though self-care can help you feel better, it is important to take a doctor’s advice before using steroids and other pills or creams.

Vitiligo patients also risk developing other diseases like thyroid disease etc., which have a more prominent effect on their health. A dermatologist is the right person to assess your risk and help in further treatments.

Wrapping Up

Vitiligo is a non-contagious skin disease causing white patches on your lips and other parts of the face and body. There is no definite causing agent of this disease, but multiple factors can trigger it. There is no cure for vitiligo, but different methods can help prevent the symptoms or camouflage the patches.

You need to select your mode of treatment depending on your present health condition. Don't forget to consult a dermatologist to choose a suitable treatment option for you.