For anyone who has ever lived with vitiligo, finding treatment can be mentally and emotionally draining. While the skin condition isn’t contagious or life-threatening, many who have it on the face, the chest or the arms may get subjected to social stigma. This is where Psychodermatology for vitiligo comes into play.
Psychodermatology uses psychiatric techniques to treat a spectrum of skin disorders, including vitiligo. The major treatment modalities of Psychodermatology for vitiligo include relaxation, meditation, psychedelic medications, training programs, mental state and autosuggestion, and targeted psychotherapy.
How does Psychodermatology for vitiligo work?
Living with a skin condition can be overwhelming. In recent years studies have shown that people with chronic skin disorders are more likely to suffer from or are at a higher risk of holding psychological issues. There are many aspects to vitiligo, including the impact of the disorder itself on the psychology of the person and how it can or will interfere with the person’s relationships, self-esteem, social life or, in severe cases, profession. However, most of the time, skin disorders including vitiligo are perceived to be more benign because it is not life-threatening.
When an individual with vitiligo is found recalcitrant to treatment, it should be identified whether psychologic, social or occupational stress (stress related to one’s job) is contributing to the skin disorder. If the skin disease is triggered by an underlying psychological disorder or worsened by stress or trauma, one can easily establish a clear association between the stress and the exacerbation of the disorder. It’s a vicious cycle of stress causing a flare-up, which leads to stress and poor self-esteem.
Recognizing the connection between skin and mental health, Psychodermatology for vitiligo is established as a field of medicine that bridges the gap between psychology and dermatology. Psychodermatology explores the relationship between the skin and mood. It recognizes that emotional issues may also be involved in a skin condition like vitiligo, especially when an individual resists conventional treatment. The discipline helps people with vitiligo through their own emotional stress triggers.
Components of Psychodermatology for vitiligo
While it’s preferable to treat vitiligo medically before looking into its psychological aspects, sometimes the medical approach becomes more effective when combined with psychological strategies. Although there’s no one-size-fits-all treatment plan, Psychodermatology practitioners often treat vitiligo by learning how it responds to emotional and environmental stressors. Apart from stress-reduction techniques, practitioners may introduce patients to cognitive behavioral therapy to help reduce stress.
Stress management classes, music, relaxation techniques or moderate exercise may benefit recalcitrant patients with vitiligo. If a specific psychosocial or occupational issue exists as an exacerbating factor, therapy or counseling can help.
When the patient’s stress is intense enough to warrant consideration of anti-anxiety medication, Benzodiazepines (for quick relief from anxiety, stress, and tension) or SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) can be prescribed. Alternatively, nonaddictive agents like buspirone (Buspar) can be prescribed as a treatment of chronic anxiety.
What should you do during your Psychodermatology treatment?
Watch what you eat: Dietary changes may help relieve vitiligo if food intolerance is involved. In such cases, drinking lots of water and eating a diet that is rich in anti-inflammatory foods can help pause the progression of vitiligo.
Treat your skin with care: If your skin is sensitive to detergents, cosmetics, or skin-care products, read labels and patch-test new products before applying to a larger area.
Minimize triggers: Use an SPF 30 or higher for protecting yourself from the sun.
Try mindfulness: Stress-management techniques like meditation and yoga can help you focus on your breathing and calm your mind. Meditation can suppress the response of inflammation-promoting genes.