Vitiligo is not just a cosmetic problem. It is a condition that can cause emotional heath issues and mental distress in the forms of low self-esteem, sleep problems, anxiety, negative self-perception, and depression.
According to a study published in the journal Middle East Current Psychiatry in September 2021, about 75% of people with vitiligo report having psychiatric issues. Although there are treatments available, vitiligo has no cure, and people living with the skin condition may be at higher risk of developing other autoimmune disorders. In addition to this, patches especially on those with darker skin tones can lead to stigmatization and discrimination. Despite these challenges, there are ways to live confidently with vitiligo. There are strategies you can use to take control of your life and thrive with the skin condition.
Own your emotions
It’s common for people with vitiligo to feel self-conscious, anxious, or embarrassed about their appearance, mainly in situations at the beach or in social gatherings. These feelings can be difficult to handle. But, it’s important not to ignore or suppress them. Acknowledging your emotions and owning them is a step towards understanding how vitiligo affects your mental health and overall well-being. By doing so, you can better understand your needs and work towards addressing them.
Talking to a trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional can be helpful in understanding and owning your emotions. They can provide a safe and supportive environment for you to discuss how you are feeling.
Learn about the condition
Understanding your symptoms and vitiligo treatment options can help you feel more in control of your condition and overall health. There are many resources available to help you learn more about vitiligo, including the Global Vitiligo Foundation, the Vitiligo Research Foundation, and the American Academy of Dermatology. These organizations offer information on the latest research, treatment options, and advice on managing the emotional and psychological impacts of the condition.
Build a support system
A solid support system can help mitigate the psychological impacts of living with vitiligo. Joining vitiligo support groups can help you feel less alone and more resilient. Support groups offer a space where you can connect with others with vitiligo and share your experiences, thoughts, and feelings. You can learn from others who have faced similar challenges and gain insight into how they have coped with the challenges of living with a chronic skin condition.
Seek professional help
Consider cognitive behavioral therapy to learn coping skills and treat overwhelming symptoms of depression, anxiety, or stress. If you are open to seeking professional counseling, you may want to consider connecting with a psychodermatologist (a mental health professional who specializes in treating skin conditions and the psychological issues that can arise from them) or another therapist who has experience working with people with chronic health conditions.
Practice body positivity
One way to practice body positivity is to focus on the things you like about your body, rather than the things you dislike. For example, you might appreciate your strong arms or your broad smile. Taking care of your body by eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly can also help you feel more positive about your appearance.
Consider treatment, but don’t feel pressurized by it
Vitiligo treatments include medications, light therapy, depigmentation therapy, and surgeries. Exploring these options with a dermatologist can help you find what may work best for you. It is important to note that not all treatment options are suitable for everyone with vitiligo, and the effectiveness of these can vary from person to person. Hence, we recommended you consult with a dermatologist who specializes in treating vitiligo to determine which treatment option may be best for you.
In the end, remember, vitiligo isn’t life-threatening or contagious, and you can choose whether to treat it or not. By using these strategies and seeking support, you can take control of your life and thrive with vitiligo.