Vitiligo is a rare, disfiguring pigment disease that destroys melanin and whitens skin in erratic patches. Though not physically painful, it causes great emotional pain for those with the diagnosis, especially in sufferers with darker skin. Frequently but not always successfully treated with steroids, vitiligo may soon have an unusual new therapy that’s potent in more than one way.
Last year, scientists in London applied pepper-or more specifically, piperine, the alkaloid that makes pepper pungent-to the skin of mice. They found that, within six weeks, their pigmentation changed to a light, even brown.
When light therapy is added to the pepper treatment, skin became even darker in the same amount of time.
Further studies on human subjects are required, but doctors are optimistic about what this could mean for vitiligo patients’ futures.
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