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Quality of Life with Vitiligo

Unveiling the Unseen Struggles: A Comprehensive Review of Vitiligo’s Psychological, Social, and Quality of Life Impacts

By 20 October 2023No Comments


This review explores the psychosocial impact of vitiligo on patients, its consequences for their quality of life, and the need for holistic support.

Vitiligo’s psychosocial burden, driven by the need to conceal lesions and societal beauty ideals, leads to stress, sadness, and low self-esteem. Social stigma affects self-esteem, especially in cultural contexts, exacerbating the need for culturally sensitive support. Anxiety and depression are common due to visible differences and societal pressures.

Vitiligo significantly reduces the quality of life, especially in younger patients, impacting daily activities, careers, and relationships. Disease severity worsens these effects, particularly in visible areas and among individuals with darker skin tones. Long-term disease activity may improve acceptance and quality of life.

Psychological support and counseling are crucial, as many patients don’t seek medical help. Education plays a key role, improving understanding and reducing anxiety. Raising awareness about the impact of vitiligo can challenge perceptions and contribute to enhancing patients’ well-being.

In conclusion, this review highlights the interplay between psychosocial factors, quality of life, and the importance of addressing social stigma, providing psychological support, and advancing education and awareness for those with vitiligo.

Introduction & Background

Vitiligo, an acquired disorder resulting in the loss of skin pigmentation, is a chronic condition of depigmentation with global significance. Its estimated prevalence ranges around 1-2% worldwide, though precise figures can be challenging to ascertain (Table 1[1]. Recent advancements have significantly enhanced our comprehension of vitiligo’s origin, now definitively categorized as an autoimmune disorder [2]. This disorder involves a targeted reduction in melanocytes, subsequently leading to the depigmentation of specific skin areas. It’s important to note that vitiligo presents as well-defined, fully depigmented, chalky-white patches [3]. Despite its wide occurrence, a conclusive cure for vitiligo remains elusive, and the efficacy of available treatments varies individually, frequently yielding unsatisfactory outcomes [1].

Prevalence type Description Range/Percentage Notes Ref.
1 Global Prevalence Estimated worldwide prevalence 0.5–1% It is difficult to estimate precisely. [15]
2 Bornholm Study Prevalence on the island of Bornholm in Denmark 0.38% A most extensive epidemiological study in 1977 and One of the earliest surveys in 1977. [16]
3 French West Indies Prevalence in the black population of the French West Indies Similar to or slightly less than the white population. [17]
4 Regional Prevalence The highest incidence: India, followed by Mexico and Japan India: up to 8.8%, Mexico: 2.6–4%, Japan: 1.68% Disparity between prevalence and incidence data. [18]
5 Gender Differences Equal prevalence in males and females Gender-related seeking of consultation. [14,19]
6 Meta-Analysis Pooled prevalence from various studies Community-based: 0.2%, Hospital-based: 1.8% from 82 population- or community-based studies and 22 hospital-based studies. [20]
7 Age-Related Prevalence Vitiligo prevalence and age distribution Non-segmental vitiligo occurs across ages; segmental vitiligo tends to appear young. [21]
8 Age-Related Increase Vitiligo prevalence increases with age Varies with different age groups. Supported by multiple studies. [22,23]
9 Multinational Study (Europe, USA, and Japan) vitiligo prevalence among 35,694 survey participants (Europe, n = 18 785; USA, n = 8517; Japan, n = 8392) 1.3% The overall prevalence is 1.3%, with 0.6% diagnosed cases, 0.4% undiagnosed cases, and 0.3% displaying signs of vitiligo. [24]
10 Korean Study Three-year period, comprehensive review using Korean population data 0.12–0.13% Vitiligo in the Korean population is associated with various autoimmune/non-autoimmune diseases, including thyroiditis, atopic dermatitis, and psoriasis. [25]

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