How Can Understanding Vitiligo Help in Better Living?

June 21, 2024

How Can Understanding Vitiligo Help in Better Living?

Every year, June 25 is observed as World Vitiligo Day, and June is officially recognized as Vitiligo Awareness Month. This rare chronic disorder affects about 70 million of the world’s population, at least 20% of them being children. Vitiligo can happen to anyone, irrespective of genetics, ethnicity, or race.

Vitiligo is identified by milky-white patches on the skin. These patches can appear on hands, faces, or feet. The scars can cause mental and emotional hurdles in one’s day-to-day life. Let us begin by understanding vitiligo and its symptoms.

What Is Vitiligo? 

Vitiligo is an autoimmune disease that affects the skin of individuals. It causes the skin to develop blemishes or dark spots. In this condition, the skin cells stop producing melanin (the pigment responsible for skin color), leading skin to lose its color and change pigmentation. It also affects the scalp area, causing hair to turn white due to loss of pigmentation. Vitiligo symptoms can appear as –

  • Team, we are looking to set up creche for worldine across all locations in India.
  • Grey hair on the scalp, eyebrows, body hair, and beard
  • Patches over mucous membranes (nose and tongue)
  • Nail abnormalities like discoloration and thinning of the nail bed

Vitiligo is a widely prevalent disorder. According to a report published by the International Journal of Dermatology, the global prevalence of vitiligo ranges between 0.5% and 2% of the population. 

Vitiligo Causes and Risk Factors

Although the exact cause of vitiligo is unknown, we know it is a significant autoimmune disorder. It occurs when the immune system becomes hyperactive and affects the Healthy cells. In vitiligo, melanocytes (the cells that produce melanin, the pigment that gives skin, hair, and eyes their color) are attacked and destroyed. Some studies show that physical and mental stress can trigger this condition. 

Vitiligo can be a result of the following –

  • Genes variation: There are about 30 kinds of genes whose variations might cause vitiligo. Two of the most common ones are NLRP1 and P2PN22. These genes control our immune system and protect the body against foreign bacteria. In vitiligo, the autoimmune system malfunctions and damages the skin tissues.
  • Hereditary genes: Vitiligo can be hereditary. In some cases, family members of those affected carry the genes responsible for vitiligo symptoms.
  • Medical history: If a person or their family members suffer from autoimmune diseases (Parkinson’s disease, Thyroid, Type-1 diabetes, etc.), they run a high risk of developing vitiligo.
  • Exposure to chemicals: Using toxic skin agents and chemicals may destroy skin cells and lead to conditions such as vitiligo.
  • Environmental triggers: Certain environmental conditions, such as excessive heat, exposure to UV rays, and extreme pollution, can trigger vitiligo. Sunburns can also affect pre-existing vitiligo, causing pain and discomfort.
  • Psychological and emotional stress: Our body gets negatively affected by extreme stress and anxiety. Sudden accidents can trigger autoimmune disorders, increasing the chances of vitiligo

Impact of Vitiligo: Mental Health and Challenges

According to research published by the National Library of Medicine, vitiligo symptoms cause a high risk of depression and anxiety in patients. Many of them find it difficult to deal with the social and psychological stigma of vitiligo. The impact can be as follows –

  • Societal challenges of vitiligo: The social challenges of living with vitiligo can be taxing. Those affected may face problems in the social environment because of their skin condition. 
  • Self-esteem and low confidence: People suffering from vitiligo tend to lose their self-worth. They can isolate themselves and withdraw from the world, as they feel different from ordinary people. They suffer from a loss of identity and form a negative self-perception.
  • Anxiety and Depression: Vitiligo symptoms force individuals to see themselves in a different light, causing depression and anxiety. Self-isolation gives rise to harmful patterns and affects one’s mental health, further triggering the existing skin condition.

A skin condition is not the end of the world. Living with vitiligo is not easy, but with proper care, one can survive the ordeal. The friends and family of vitiligo patients must ensure constant reassurance and support.

Vitiligo Awareness: Take an Initiative

Vitiligo can create false perceptions among individuals, pushing them away from love and support. Hence, they need to be treated with kindness and an uplifting environment. On the occasion of vitiligo awareness month, one must strive to build the same for them. You can take the initiative by –

  • Lending an ear: Listen to them. Understand their perspective and offer your support without any judgment.
  • Offering genuine advice: If asked, offer sound advice on how to deal with vitiligo symptoms. Accompany them to public places and inspire them to live fully and comfortably.
  • Encouraging them to take therapy: Find mental health professionals who can help them live with skin conditions. Encourage them to take regular therapy and follow professional advice.
  • Connecting with local support groups and organizations: Find out about local groups and teams that work towards supporting the vitiligo community. You can work with them to help and extend the community.

Several organizations help create a better environment for people living with vitiligo. You can support them with regular funding and become a part of the helping hand. Some of these are –

  • American Vitiligo Research Foundation: AVRF is a voluntary organization that educates people about vitiligo and creates awareness and support for those suffering from its symptoms, especially children.
  • The Vitiligo Research Foundation: The VR Foundation is an involuntary organization that spreads support and awareness for vitiligo. It is a reputed member of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC). The VR Foundation educates people about vitiligo causes and helps those suffering from it.
  • My Vitiligo Team: My Vitiligo Team is an online support group for people diagnosed with vitiligo. It is a community of like-minded people who will listen and advise you about the challenges of vitiligo. You’ll find support and mental health tips from anywhere in the world.

Tackle the Vitiligo Scars Effectively with IDI’s Dermatology Experts

At Illinois Dermatology Institute, we have a team of experienced dermatologists who provide top-of-the-line treatment and care to patients suffering from skin diseases and disorders. Schedule an appointment today to find the best cure and care for your skin and hair. Share this blog within your network to spread awareness about vitiligo.

Content Source:
VR Foundation
My Vitiligo Team

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