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Empowering Patients: Addressing the Psychological Impact of Vitiligo

Featuring Seemal Desai, MD | Education Advisor |

Clinical Assistant Professor 
Department of Dermatology
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Dallas, TX

| Published June 24, 2024

In this episode of Topical Conversations, Dr Seemal R. Desai emphasizes the importance of addressing the psychological impact of vitiligo on patients during dermatology consultations. He begins by highlighting key questions to ask patients regarding their emotional well-being and social interactions related to their condition. 

Addressing emotional responses 

Dr Desai suggests asking patients about their feelings of depression and how vitiligo affects their daily lives, such as social interactions, intimate relationships, and self-image without makeup. These questions not only help in understanding the patient's emotional state but also contribute to building rapport and trust during the consultation. 

Normalization of the psychological burden 

He stresses the normalization of psychological burden, stating that there's no shame in feeling depressed or impacted by vitiligo, especially in communities where the condition carries significant stigma, such as communities of color and Southeast Asia. Acknowledging these feelings can empower patients to cope better with their condition. 

The benefits of support groups 

Dr Desai encourages patients to join vitiligo patient support groups, both locally and nationally, where they can connect with others facing similar challenges. He highlights the importance of platforms like VITFriends, active on social media and affiliated with the Global Vitiligo Foundation, as spaces for sharing experiences and struggles. 

World Vitiligo Day 

Finally, Dr. Desai advocates for World Vitiligo Day, which takes place every June and is organized by the Global Vitiligo Foundation. He encourages dermatologists to mark their calendars for this event, as it brings together patients, educators, researchers, and doctors to raise awareness and advance vitiligo research and support initiatives.


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