Coping with the Emotional and Psychological Aspects of Vitiligo
The change in appearance caused by vitiligo can affect a person's emotional and psychological well-being and may create difficulty in getting or keeping a job. People with this disorder can experience emotional stress, particularly if vitiligo develops on visible areas of the body, such as the face, hands, arms, feet, or on the genitals.
Adolescents, who are often particularly concerned about their appearance, can be devastated by widespread vitiligo. Some people who have vitiligo feel embarrassed, ashamed, depressed, or worried about how others will react.
Several strategies can help a person cope with vitiligo. First, it is important to find a doctor who is knowledgeable about vitiligo and takes the disorder seriously. The doctor should also be a good listener and be able to provide emotional support. Patients need to let their doctor know if they are feeling depressed because doctors and other mental health professionals can help people deal with depression. Patients should also learn as much as possible about the disorder and treatment choices so that they can participate in making important decisions about medical care.
Talking with other people who have vitiligo may also help a newly diagnosed person cope. The National Vitiligo Foundation can provide information about vitiligo and refer people to local chapters that have support groups of patients, families, and physicians. Family and friends are another source of support.
Reviewed by: Michael Fuller, MD