Vitiligo is an autoimmune condition in which the cells that produce skin pigment are attacked and destroyed, resulting in irregular white patches of skin. Many people who experience vitiligo wonder what they can do about it, and whether their dietary and lifestyle choices can prevent a recurrence or worsening of the condition.
According to Vitiligo Support International, people with this genetic condition may lack healthy levels of certain nutrients. However, there’s no evidence that eating certain foods could improve or worsen your vitiligo.
Despite this lack of evidence, some people claim to have success with a variety of at-home treatments. Popular topical home remedies include:
While there’s no officially prescribed “vitiligo diet,” the best nutritional steps that you can take include eating a healthy diet full of good nutrients and drinking lots of water. And, as with any autoimmune disorder, you may benefit from immune system-boosting foods that contain phytochemicals, beta-carotene, and antioxidants.
Here are some foods that people with vitiligo have cited as helpful for their condition:
- leafy greens, such as kale or romaine lettuce
- chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans
- root vegetables, especially beets, carrots, and radishes
- figs and dates
Just as there is no prescribed diet for vitiligo, there are no medically recognized foods that worsen the condition, either. However, anecdotal evidence shows that some people experience a negative reaction when they eat certain foods, especially those that contain the depigmenting agents hydroquinones. Everyone’s body is different and may react differently to certain foods.
Here are some of the top problem foods that some people with vitiligo cite:
- fruit juice
- red meats
- wheat products
Some vitiligo patients have reported that certain substances, like vitamins and herbs, have appeared to lessen the discoloration of their skin. These substances have not been deemed medically effective as treatments for vitiligo and are only supported by anecdotal evidence:
Some minerals have also been cited as helpful for preventing vitiligo recurrence, including:
- Copper. Many people get a healthy amount of copper by drinking a glass of water out of a copper cup.
- Iron. Many people get a healthy amount of iron by eating food that was cooked in a cast-iron skillet.
- Zinc. Because many zinc-rich foods are on the restricted list of foods for vitiligo, you may wish to simply ingest you zinc via a supplement.
Vitiligo is often a lifelong condition. Although it can’t be cured, there are measure you can take to potentially treat it and prevent it from worsening, including eating a healthy diet. You should see your dermatologist for expert advice on how your skin will react to vitiligo.