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Many people have some knowledge of the condition called vitiligo. Although it is a fairly common problem, most people do not know what it entails or how debilitating the disease can be. The following article will hopefully give you an insight into vitiligo and provide you with some valuable information on how best to deal with the condition. Vitiligo is a skin disorder that causes depigmentation in various parts of the body. In other words, it is a form of leukoderma, which translates as “white skin.” It affects 1-2% of the world’s population, and there is no known cure for this condition; however, there are several treatments available to try and reverse the spots caused by vitiligo. The most common forms of treatment are ointments, oral medication, or light therapy. Unfortunately, these treatments do not always work for everyone and often take several months to show any signs of working at all.
Vitiligo can affect anyone regardless of age, race, or sex; however, it usually occurs among people aged 15-40-year-old age bracket. Vitiligo is a very distressing condition because people suffering from it feel embarrassed by their appearance and may become depressed. One study found that 80% of vitiligo suffers had some level of clinical depression when they were diagnosed with the disease, while 60% still had feelings of depression once treatment was underway.
The psychological impact of vitiligo:
Because vitiligo causes sufferers to lose pigment in patches all over their skin, it can dramatically affect their social and psychological well-being. A study of 100 patients with vitiligo revealed that 88% felt depressed after the diagnosis of this condition, 64% had feelings of embarrassment about their appearance and 50% reported feeling discriminated against because of their disease. In addition, many people diagnosed with this disorder experience problem finding clothes to fit the affected area, gaining employment related to fashion or entertainment, and finding a partner who is willing to accept them for what they are.
Vitiligo appears mostly on areas of the body where there is little or no sun exposure; therefore, it tends to be found on parts such as the hands, feet, underarms, groin, and face. In more extreme cases, it can spread to different parts of the body, such as the knuckles of the fingers. Fortunately, vitiligo does not affect a person’s general health or cause pain in any way; however, this is little comfort for those who have to bear with its effects daily. Vitiligo patients may feel an overwhelming sense of grief when they first receive their diagnosis. It strikes when they are already vulnerable due to other life developments such as graduating from university, getting married, or starting a new job.
The social impact of vitiligo:
It is important to remember that many people have only a few white patches on their skin, and these do not cause them any discomfort or problems whatsoever. However, others suffer from this disorder, and the psychological effects can be overwhelming at times. A study undertaken in Turkey found that those affected by vitiligo considered it the second most crucial disease after cancer. Vitiligo does not just affect how patients feel emotionally; it can also affect their work-life and social relationships.
The emotional impact of vitiligo:
With many types of treatment for vitiligo taking several months before results appear, patients need to follow all instructions carefully and give each one a fair trial before moving on to the subsequent treatment. It may take months or years of trial and error before a patient finds something that works for them; however, some people are unfortunately never able to find an effective treatment at all.
One of the most significant problems patients face is the sense of isolation when vitiligo spreads across their bodies. It can make them feel very self-conscious about how they look and lead to feelings of depression, which can be severe enough for sufferers to try and commit suicide. Many people with vitiligo also report having difficulty sleeping because they are worried about how others look at them when they go out into public places. They may avoid socializing or participate in activities that involve being seen in public as much as possible.
The emotional effects of vitiligo can be even more pronounced when the condition develops on visible areas such as the face or hands. However, there is no evidence that those who create it on less visible parts of their bodies suffer less emotionally than those whose spots are pronounced. Although many believe that only children and young adults who have never been in a relationship before suffering from this disorder, research has shown that older individuals can also be affected by its psychological effects.
How to cope up with the psychological, social, and emotional impact of vitiligo:
- Do not let vitiligo define who you are:
Many people have vitiligo, and many of them lead successful lives. Even if you are never fully cured, you can feel content in knowing various treatments available. Some are highly successful in achieving complete removal of the white patches.
- Get support from loved ones:
When one encounters a tragic or challenging event, such as having a medical condition with physical symptoms, it helps to talk with someone close about what they’re going through. Family members and friends may seem uncomfortable when confronted with a loved one’s vitiligo, which could cause the person with the condition to become reclusive and shy away from others. It is essential to recognize that those who do not have vitiligo will never fully understand what it feels like unless they suffer from it themselves; however, those who care about you will want to help in whatever way they can.
- Practise good skincare:
Use sunscreen on any areas of exposed skin and moisturizing creams or lotions every day if possible. Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside as well as after swimming or bathing so that your skin does not dry out due to sun exposure or chlorine water – both of which contribute to faster peeling of old skin cells, which can lead to patches of discoloration.
- Open up to others:
Tell someone you trust about what you are going through if you feel comfortable doing so. Suppose they don’t know much about the condition. In that case, they may not fully understand how it affects your life, and other friends or family members may also be uncomfortable when encountering a friend or relative who suffers from vitiligo. However, one should never hide their disease from those around them because doing so makes it more difficult for loved ones to play an active role in providing the support and encouragement needed to live with the disorder and its psychological effects.
- Learn about vitiligo:
The more you know about your condition, the better it will be for you, so read up on all the information available from reliable sources such as doctors or books. The Internet also offers a wealth of information on the subject but be sure only to visit websites that have been recommended by reputable sources such as dermatologists or health care professionals. While some sites may contain helpful information, others could just be taking advantage of your fears by offering “miracle cures” that are not supported by medical evidence.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle:
Staying physically and emotionally healthy will provide you with the resilience you need to positively deal with any life changes. It means eating correctly, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep but remember not to overdo these things because this can lead to stress at times when it is least needed.
- Remain positive:
Some individuals believe that being angry or sad about their condition will help them cope better with vitiligo, but this is counterproductive because negative emotions only weaken your immune system, which in turn makes it harder for your body to fight off infections caused by stress. It may take time before white patches on the skin disappear, and the skin will remain sensitive to sunlight. Still, an optimistic attitude is a better way of coping with vitiligo than wallowing in negative emotions.
- Make new friends:
Please don’t be embarrassed to make new friends who are not affected by vitiligo because you can never have too many people on your side to achieve significant and small goals, especially when they share similar interests as you do. It would help if you also remembered that having healthy relationships with others has been proven to reduce stress levels, which can slow down the progression of your condition.
- Get social:
Having a solid support network consisting of family and friends who understand what you are going through is a great way to deal with vitiligo and a good way of making new friends. Contact a support group today and learn how you can make the most out of your condition by turning it into an advantage by doing things such as participating in awareness campaigns, fund-raising events, or simply organizing get-togethers for people with vitiligo to share their experiences.
Vitiligo: treatment and diagnosis
The most effective vitiligo treatments remain light therapy (also called phototherapy) and skin (topical) creams such as corticosteroids, calcineurin inhibitors, and vitamin D analogs. Patients are usually advised to try one treatment at a time to see which ones are most effective for their skin type. However, in some cases, when the spots are covering different parts of the body, it may be necessary to use more than one treatment together to get the best results possible.
A diagnosis of vitiligo is usually made based on patient’s self-reports of their symptoms rather than by carrying out expensive medical tests; however, there are certain clinical features associated with this condition which doctors look out for, such as symmetrical involvement (the white patches appear on both sides of the body), the rapid spread of pigment loss, and new colorless areas appearing over time. Early diagnosis and appropriate management can prevent complications due to loss of skin pigment, contractures, and secondary infections. A team approach involving dermatologists, psychologists, social workers, plastic surgeons, and internists helps determine proper management.
Tips for coping with vitiligo:
- Spend time in the sun:
Vitiligo patients must avoid sunrays, but since sunlight can sometimes help improve skin pigmentation, it might be a good idea to spend some time outside during early mornings and late afternoons. It will depend on how much your white patches are phototoxic, as well as how tolerant your skin is towards ultraviolet light. Remember that increasing exposure to sunlight also increases the risk of suffering from severe sunburns, which could trigger vitiligo, so don’t overdo it!
- Don’t try out “home remedies” and other unproven treatments:
Before trying any alternative methods or home remedies for vitiligo, please consult with your doctor first because there is a possibility that these remedies may be dangerous and could worsen your condition. A good example is using “curcumin,” which has been studied as a treatment for vitiligo. Still, according to experts from the National Institute of Health, it may cause skin inflammation.
- You can also use makeup to camouflage vitiligo spots:
Makeup has been known for years as an effective way of covering up white patches or discoloration of the skin, and it works best on patients with fair skin. It is not necessary to use heavy foundations or concealers; make sure you choose colors close to your normal skin tone.
- Avoid using harsh chemicals:
If you want to lighten up some of the skin patches such as the face, hands, and feet, avoid using potentially harmful bleaching creams which contain high levels of hydroquinone because this chemical has been reported to cause ochronosis (a bluish-black discoloration) in people who have dark skin tones at-risk groups for specific types of cancers (such as leukemia), permanent liver damage, severe allergic reactions, severe diarrhea leading to death caused by low potassium levels, etc.
- Homeopathic treatment for vitiligo:
Many dermatologists consider homeopathy an effective treatment for vitiligo because it stimulates the body’s natural defenses to regain its pigment. Homeopathic remedies, which can be obtained either over-the-counter or through a homeopathic pharmacy (for which you will need a prescription from your doctor), contain small amounts of substances derived from plants and minerals that stimulate the body’s immune system. You must visit a registered homeopathy doctor and get the best homeopathic treatment for vitiligo. You book an appointment through OHO Homeopathy for more information.