What Is It Like to Live with Vitiligo? A Young Woman Shares Her Journey
Vitiligo is an autoimmune condition that causes patches of skin to lose their color. It can affect any part of the body and can occur in people of any age, ethnicity, or sex and affects between 1.9 and 2.8 million people across the United States.1,2
Unfortunately, vitiligo is often perceived as a “cosmetic issue,” leaving people with the condition feeling misunderstood and hesitant to open up about their experiences and needs. According to a recent survey of over 3,500 people living with vitiligo, vitiligo can impact a person’s daily life, emotional well-being, and career: 3
- Nearly 60% (58.7%) reported diagnosed mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression (28.8% and 24.5%, respectively).
- Almost half (49%) of survey respondents agreed that vitiligo made them feel less confident and/or more self-conscious.
- More than 40% (41.9%) believed they would be farther along in their careers if they did not have vitiligo.
In recognition of Vitiligo Awareness Month, I talked to Mary, who has vitiligo, along with Dr. Nada Elbuluk, Board-Certified Dermatologist, to help bring more attention to this serious, autoimmune condition and discuss the impact of vitiligo on emotional health and mental health as well as the science behind the condition.
Vitiligo: More than skin deep. harvard.edu. Published September 26, 2019. Accessed February 1, 2022. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/vitiligo-more-than-skin-deep-2019092617885.
Gandhi K, Ezzedine K, Anastassopoulos KP,et al. Prevalence of vitiligo among adults in the United States. JAMA Dermatol. 2022;158(1):43-50.
Bibeau K, Hamzavi IH, Ezzedine K, et al. Mental Health and psychosocial burden among patients living with vitiligo: findings from the global VALIANT study. Poster presented at: Maui Derm for Dermatologists. January, 2022. Grand Wailea, Maui, HI.