Can you actually treat vitiligo at the Dead Sea? It turns out that you can. While vitiligo treatment is always a case by case basis, climatotherapy at the Dead Sea has proven to be a safe and effective way of treating your spots.
I first learned about climatotherapy from London-based vitiligo blogger Simon Parker, who took his second trip to the Dead Sea this past September. Diagnosed at the age of 13, Simon first visited Jordan in 2014 with Professor Karin Schallreuter from the Institute for Pigmentary Disorders after a particularly stressful period caused his vitiligo to spread on his face. Now just back from his second trip, Simon has the details about why and how climatotherapy at the Dead Sea actually works.
The Dead Sea has three unique properties that make it perfect for climatotherapy
According to Simon, the Dead Sea area has three unique properties that make it the perfect environment for treating vitiligo. The first is the Dead Sea’s climate. With approximately 330 sunny days a year, the Dead Sea is very hot with direct sunlight. However, because the sea is 400 meters below sea level, it has a unique UVA to UVB ratio with significantly less UVB rays that are more harmful to the skin. As a result, you can stay in the sun longer. The second key property is the sea’s high concentration of salts and minerals – which is why you often hear of people floating in the Dead Sea. The magnesium in the water brings the hydrogen peroxide levels of your skin down – something that is supposed to happen naturally but doesn’t happen as much in those with vitiligo. Another important mineral is bromine, which relaxes your muscles and emotional state. Since vitiligo is often brought on my stress triggers, being relaxed and happy is important to helping the pigment heal. The third property is the Dead Sea Medical Center, which provides weekly checkups, covered Dead Sea pools for when it’s too hot to go into the sea, and an open solariums for nude sunbathing.
Climatotherapy at the Dead Sea requires a strict treatment schedule
According to Simon, the treatment schedule while you’re the Dead Sea is actually quite demanding. Simon woke up at 7:30 a.m. each day to do a 15 minute swim in the Dead Sea before showering off and going to sunbathe in the men’s solarium. At first, he would bathe in the solarium for just five minutes, but he gradually increased the time to a full hour. He would repeat the entire process three times a day, returning at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Twice a week, Simon would go to the medical center for check-ups. He also supplemented the process by taking vitamins and supplements like folic acid, B12, copper, zinc and ginkgo biloba. Finally, he used topical products from Wanakee’s Wellness Oils, which are made of all natural ingredients including coconut oils, beeswax, barberry extract and lavender.
Climatotherapy results have proven to be effective for treating vitiligo
During his second trip to the Dead Sea, Simon saw small repigmentation around his eyes, jaw and knee after 14 days. To help the progress continue, he continued doing UVB treatment and using wellness oils for three months after the trip. Simon isn’t alone in seeing results from this process. In 2010, there was a climatotherapy study done on 436 vitiligo patients who were treated on the Israeli side of the Dead Sea. According to the results, 3.9% of patients demonstrated significant repigmentation, 81.4% demonstrated good repigmentation, 13.1% demonstrated no repigmentation but their vitiligo became pink (signs of the first stage starting), and just 1.6% appeared to not be affected.
Learn more about Simon’s trips to the Dead Sea on his blog at http://simonsvitiligoblog.com/. You can also hear him talk about his most recent trip to the Dead Sea on his YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVtmQShvVTU&feature=youtu.be.
Erika Page is a writer and blogger with universal vitiligo. Her first spots appeared on her spine when she was seven years old and today vitiligo covers her entire body. Based just south of Washington, D.C., Erika founded Living Dappled to create a community of inspiration and hope for girls and women living with vitiligo.