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Exposing the real issues of vitiligo

New Delhi [India], June 25 : There is considerable stigma attached to vitiligo, which affects about one to two percent of the population worldwide.

The world observes World Vitiligo Day on June 25.

Indian Association of Dermatologists Venereologists & Leprologists (IADVL) recently marked the day to discuss the issues related to vitiligo, facts and myths, treatment options available and awareness programmes being conducted to curb the depression and help deal with the social stigma that the skin condition brings along.

Popularly known as leucoderma, vitiligo is a skin disorder where the healthy cells in your body are affected. It can start at any age, but about half of those with vitiligo develop it before the age of 20, and about 95 percent before age 40.

It affects both genders, and all races and ethnicities.

The course of the disease is very variable. The lesions in some patients may remain static or progress very slowly, whereas, in others, the disease progresses very fast and cover the whole body in few months. In few cases, spontaneous repigmentation has been noticed.

Dr. Rashmi Sarkar, president, IADVL, said, "About 30 percent of affected individuals may report a positive family history (i.e. aunt, uncle, cousin, grandparent). The risk for children of affected individuals to develop vitiligo themselves is thought to be about 5 percent. Though the condition is not usually physically painful, the psychological and social effects are well-documented. It can be especially devastating to children and those with darker skin."

It is estimated that out of the affected individuals, 75 percent have a negative self-image on account of their condition. The most common doubts include fear of diagnosis, fear of increase in the white patches or the spread, likelihood of transmission to future kids and possible spread to spouse, besides developing insecurity and loss of confidence psychologically.

There is a whole new list of new techniques and therapies that offer positive results in the treatment.
Dr. Rohit Batra, dermatologist and vitiligo expert, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital said, "Latest treatment options comprising of new medicines and surgical procedures have made vitiligo a more treatable condition. A patient should visit a vitiligo specialist as early as possible and should not indulge in home remedies. We have treated numerous patients with both medical and surgical treatments and depending upon the site and extent we have an array of treatment options to help people regain the lost color and confidence."

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