|Cosmestics: $25-$35+||Topical Remedies: $20-$300+||Light or Laser Treatment: $100-$5,000|
Vitiligo is a condition in which the cells that produce melanin , the substance responsible for skin color, die or malfunction, causing white patches to appear. Its cause remains unknown. According to the Mayo Clinic , because there is no cure for vitiligo, the goal of treatment is to stop or slow pigment loss and if possible restore some color to affected skin.
Related articles: Annual Physical, Thyroid Test, Health Insurance
- Depending on the severity of the discoloration, patients will likely seek treatment from a dermatologist. For patients with health insurance, out-of-pocket costs for visiting a dermatologist will typically consist of a doctor visit copay of $5 -$30 or more, or coinsurance of 10%-50% or more. For patients without health insurance, an office visit typically costs $50-$200 or more.
- According to the American Academy of Dermatology in cases where less than 20% of the skin surface is affected, doctors may prescribe a potent topical corticosteroid, such as clobetasol propionate  which costs $20 - $300 or more, depending on whether the patient buys a name brand or its generic equivalent.
- Other topical treatments include immunomodulators, which regulate the skin's immune response. The commonly prescribed immunomodulator Tacrolimus costs $200 or more.
- Additional methods used to restore pigmentation include light or laser treatment, which can cost $100-$5,000, depending on how much of the skin is treated, the type of laser used, the individual center and its regional location. The National Vitiligo Foundation puts the starting cost of laser treatment at $150 or more per session, and notes that patients often require 20 sessions or more.
- Patients may also choose camouflage such as self-tanners or concealing cosmetics to hide discoloration rather than treatment to attempt to restore pigmentation. According to the National Vitiligo Foundation these types of products typically cost $25 or more per container. For example, Dermablend Cover Creme costs $35. However, because the products are sold over-the counter they are not typically covered by health insurers.
What should be included:|
- According to the American Academy of Dermatology , a dermatologist should be able to diagnose vitiligo by taking a patient's medical history and performing a physical exam. However, since people who have vitiligo often have an autoimmune thyroid disease, a doctor may order blood tests to ensure the thyroid is healthy.
- Treatment for vitiligo may take as long as a year and a half, and may require patients to try more than one option before any results are seen.
- Using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 can help to prevent the normally pigmented skin from darkening and therefore highlighting the contrast with affected areas. It is also advised for patients who may be using products or treatments that make skin more sensitive to the sun. Sunscreens typically cost $5-$30 or more, like L'Oreal Sublime Sun Face Lotion, SPF 50 , which costs $11 at drugstore.com.
Shopping for vitiligo treatment:
- Outlets such as Costco and Walmart often sell prescription and over-the-counter drugs at significant savings. Walmart, for example, has a prescription drug program that includes certain generic drugs at commonly prescribed dosages.
- Many hospitals offer discounts of 30% of more to uninsured/cash-paying patients. At St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, CA, for example, patients without health insurance may qualify for a 45% discount off billed charges. They'll also be offered an additional 10% discount if payment is made within 10 days of receiving a bill.
- The American Academy of Dermatology has a search tool to help patients find a dermatologist.
- The Mayo Clinic offers questions for patients to ask their dermatologists.
| Material on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always consult your physician or pharmacist regarding medications or medical procedures.
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