Mental Health

How does vitiligo affect people’s emotions, social interactions, and relationships? 

The change in appearance caused by vitiligo can affect a person’s emotional and psychological well-being and may cause lifestyle alterations, often becoming less active in social activities or wearing long-sleeves/pants year-round to cover visible vitiligo. Relationships may be affected by the poor self-image or lack of self-confidence. Many people find that the emotional stress increases as vitiligo develops on visible areas of the body such as the face, hands, arms, feet, or on the genitals. It is not uncommon for those with vitiligo to feel embarrassed, ashamed, depressed, or worried about how others will react. Adolescents, who are already concerned about their appearance, can be devastated. Patients need to let their doctor know if they are feeling depressed because doctors and other mental health professionals can help with the depression.

How can I cope with vitiligo better?

One of the first steps in coping is finding a doctor who is knowledgeable about vitiligo and current treatments, and is capable of providing emotional support. Patients should also learn as much as possible about vitiligo and treatment choices so that they can participate in making important decisions about their medical care. This proactive approach will help them regain control of their life rather than allowing vitiligo to make the rules. It’s also important to establish support with family and friends and to talk with others who have vitiligo. Some people with vitiligo find support groups to be supportive and affirming environments. Click here for more information on support groups.