Vitiligo awareness – coping with emotional and psychological aspects of vitiligo

Vitiligo Awareness Day is observed on May 19 every year in India. I believe boosting the morale of vitiligo patients is important. Most vitiligo patients suffer psychologically due to the disease. They develop an inferiority complex and tend to isolate themselves from society. It is important to provide proper counselling to get them out of this complex.

Most people have wrong assumptions about the disease. Vitiligo is not a contagious disease. It is an auto-immune disorder, caused by pigment changes. If the disorder is identified in the early stages and proper medication taken, it can be cured.

The change in appearance caused by vitiligo can affect your emotional and psychological well-being. You may experience emotional stress, particularly if vitiligo develops on visible areas of your body, such as your face, hands, arms or feet. You may feel embarrassed, ashamed, depressed or worried about how others will react. Young people, who are often particularly concerned about their appearance, can be devastated by widespread vitiligo.

There are several things you can do to cope with the disorder:

1. Learning about vitiligo

Find out as much as you can about vitiligo and its treatment options so that you can participate in making important decisions about your health care. We really have to read and research as much as we can, Internet, books are good sources.

2. Finding the right doctor

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 doctors know if they are feeling depressed, because doctors and other mental health professionals can help people deal with depression.

For non-sufferers, do not ignore any white patch you notice on you or family member, see a doctor immediately. Vitiligo is better managed at early stage.

3. Protect your skin

If you have Vitiligo, particularly if you have fair skin, use sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Sunscreen helps protect your skin from sunburn and long-term damage.

During long periods outdoors, you should wear long sleeves, pants and wid e- brimmed hats and alternatively sun protective wears.

4. Conceal imperfections using cosmetics

Some people have found that cosmetics that cover the white patches improve their appearance and help them feel better about themselves. These cosmetic products may be particularly effective if you have vitiligo in limited areas of your body. You may need to experiment with several brands of concealing cosmetics before finding a product that blends best with your normal skin tone.

5. Stay on a healthy diet

Healthy food is nature’s way to repair, restore and rejuvenate. They heal your body without dangerous side effects. Food rich in antioxidant, Psoralen and phytochemical (green leafy vegetables) are strongly encouraged, do not cook for more than 1 min (you can eat raw), you can juice or anyway you feel like. Green tea, vegetables, (carrots, cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, radish etc) and fruits are a good way to give your skin the extra boost and antioxidants needed to produce pigment and sound health. Generally eat healthy, replace flavored drinks with water, natural fresh juice and Soy Milk.

Providing proper awareness to the patient alone is not sufficient. We should educate their relatives too, so that they can understand the disorder and support the patient with vitiligo.

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