Does Vitamin D cream help with Vitiligo?

The oral consumption of Vitamin D supplement capsules can help manage vitiligo symptoms, but, the use of Vitamin D cream on vitiligo patches is quite a debatable issue. Some clinical trials observed encouraging results whereas others noticed no benefits at all. Thus, due to varying results of these trials, further evaluation is required to derive a conclusion.

Read more: Vitamin D supplement capsules for Vitiligo

Vitamin D oral supplements help with Vitiligo

Vitiligo is an autoimmune skin issue where the faulty, stressed immune system overreacts and attacks the pigment producing healthy skin cells to cause skin de-pigmentation in the form of white vitiligo patches on skin. In short, vitiligo is linked to a compromised, unregulated immune system.

Interestingly, more than 70% of the immune system lies in the gut. Thus, a healthy gut is the first step towards a healthy immune system which would lead to relief in vitiligo symptoms. Optimum digestion, healthy liver functioning and sufficient amount of healthy gut bacteria (probiotics) are key for gut health. Proper elimination is also important; autoimmunity is often worsened by constipation.

The gut refers to the gastrointestinal tract that begins at the mouth and terminates at the anus. The crucial organs of the gut are stomach, small intestine, large intestine and liver.

In the natural (holistic) healing concept, leaky gut is the root of all autoimmune problems including vitiligo. The leaky gut simply means leakage in the gut. The lining (wall) of the small intestine has a net like porous structure with micro holes. These micro holes act as a barrier so that only the food nutrients can enter the blood stream whereas the bigger waste particles (undigested food particles, unhealthy gut microbes and heavy metals) cannot pass through the barrier. In case of leaky gut, the lining gets damaged and the micro holes get bigger which allows the bigger toxin particles to seep through into bloodstream. Such a heavy inflow of toxins alarms the immune system and it results in an autoimmune response in the form of attack on body’s own skin cells to cause skin de-pigmentation.

The probable causes for leaky gut are- chronic stress, overuse of antibiotics and steroids, alcohol abuse, chronic constipation, poor diet, unhealthy lifestyle and contaminated drinking water.

Thus, to reverse this autoimmune response, you need to improve your gut health by all means- perfect digestion, no constipation, adequate amount of probiotics, no alcohol (or reduce it drastically) and repair of leaky gut.

How oral Vitamin D supplementation can help here?

I’ve already written a very detailed about the benefits of Vitamin D oral supplements for vitiligo management. Let me quickly summarize the key benefits of Vitamin D here again:

  • Vitamin D is a hormone that regulates many genes in the body including those responsible for the functioning of the immune system.
  • It has an immune-modulatory effect. It suppresses the autoimmune response by making the immune system more tolerant.
  • It inhibits the synthesis of proinflammatory proteins in the immune system.
  • Optimum amount of vitamin D in your blood would help repair leaky gut to re-store the integrity of the gut wall.

Unfortunately, most of the people with vitiligo remains acutely deficient in Vitamin D. To decide that how much Vitamin D supplementation is required in your case, you would need to get tested for the existing Vitamin D levels in your blood. The optimum levels are 70-100 ng/ml. In case of deficiency, a daily dosage of 5000-10000 IU per day for adults and 2000 IU per day for kids would help achieve the optimum levels by 3-6 months. Always buy the ‘right’ product that contains Vitamin D along with some Vitamin K2. Here again, I would request you to please read my article for more info- How Vitamin D helps with Vitiligo?

What about Vitamin D cream for Vitiligo?

Vitamin D oral supplements are highly beneficial. No doubt about it!

But, what about Vitamin D creams?

Vitamin D creams contain the biologically active form of vitamin D, calcitriol and its synthetic analogs such as calcipotriol and tacalcitol. 

These skin creams have shown promising results to reduce the skin proliferation rate to relieve psoriasis symptoms, but, their use in vitiligo treatment needs further evaluation. (1, 2, 3, 4)

Many clinical trials were conducted in the past to evaluate the healing effect of vitamin D cream when used in combination with UV light therapy (phototherapy) and Sunlight exposure. The results were varying- some trials gave promising results; they observed that vitamin D enhances the healing effect of light therapy by promoting the growth of pigment producing skin cells (melanocytes). But, others observed no benefits at all of using Vitamin D creams. On the top of that, some trials observed that Vitamin D actually hampered the healing effect of light therapy. Hence, it’s quite confusing and unclear whether Vitamin D creams are worthy enough to be tried for vitiligo management.

Read more: Turmeric (curcumin) for Vitiligo

Clinical trials with positive results of using Vitamin D creams

  • A total of 32 people dealing with vitiligo were divided into two groups. The first group applied tacalcitol (Vitamin D analog) based cream daily along with twice-a-week exposure to narrow band UVB phototherapy. The second group used the phototherapy alone. The comparison between the two groups showed that application of tacalcitol cream improved the response rate of phototherapy and improve the re-pigmentation results. (5)
  • Topical tacalcitol, when used in combination with 380-nm monochromatic excimer light therapy, improves the efficacy of light therapy. (6)
  • External application of calcipotriol makes PUVA light therapy more effective and brings repigmentation results in less time than using PUVA therapy alone. (7)

Trials that observed ‘no benefits’ of using Vitamin D creams

  • A total of 80 adults dealing with non-segmental vitiligo were divided into two groups. The first group was administered to apply tacalcitol based cream every night along with a daily exposure to sunlight for 30 minutes. The second group used a placebo along with the same amount of sunlight exposure. The comparative results were evaluated after every 2 weeks. The trial was carried out for 4 months and it was observed that tacalcitol group didn’t show any additional benefits in comparison to the other group. (8)
  • A total of 10 people having vitiligo on both sides of the body participated in the study. All of them received 308-nm xenon chloride excimer laser phototherapy on both sides of the body. They were administered to apply calcipotriol cream on one side of the body only. After 8 weeks, the results were evaluated and both sides of the body had similar re-pigmentation effect. Thus, vitamin D cream didn’t show any beneficial effect. (9)
  • A clinical trial reported in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, July 1988, observed that external use of Vitamin D doesn’t increase melanocytes growth. (10)

Trials that showed negative effect of Vitamin D creams

  • As reported in the Korean Journal of Dermatology, Dec 1992, calcipotriol inhibited the growth of melanocytes in a dose-dependent manner. (11)
  • A review published in the Medical Research Reviews, May 2009, highlighted the need to synthesize better Vitamin D analogues which would have minimal tendency to suppress the melanocytes growth. (12)

The Bottomline

Being an autoimmune disorder, the real healing of vitiligo lies in your gut. Improve your gut health and vitiligo symptoms would automatically be relieved. Thus, any topical medication such as Vitamin D creams don’t sound like an excellent idea to me. But, if you want to try, then there is no harm either, unless you overuse.

So, consult a good dermatologist, choose the right product and follow the prescribed guidelines. Buy a Vitamin D cream that contains some Vitamin K2 also. It improves the effectiveness of Vitamin D and reduces the risk of calcification (calcium build up in blood vessels) associated with overuse of Vitamin D.

In case you want to try over the counter Vitamin D creams (which needs no prescription), then you can check the below Amazon links:

If you are from USA, click here to check

If you are from UK, click here to check

If you are from India, click here to check

Further read

Vitiligo and Marriage

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