What do I need to know about caring for someone with vitiligo?

Someone with vitiligo may or may not feel sensitive about his or her appearance. You can help by listening to any difficulties the person is experiencing and, if the person appears to be depressed, suggest going for professional counseling or joining a support group. The person's doctor may be able to suggest relevant resources. If the person is a child, you should help the child with skin care, including protecting the skin through regularly applying a sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 or higher, wearing sunglasses and protective hat/clothing, and staying out of the sun during mid-day hours. If you are responsible for getting the child to medical care, you should also make sure to follow the treatment plan suggested by your child's pediatrician, dermatologist, and  ophthalmologist.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
The most important thing to consider when caring for someone with vitiligo is the emotional toll the disease can take. Vitiligo, an autoimmune disease, causes the loss of pigment in patches of skin. In pale-skinned people, it may barely be noticeable. But in dark-skinned people, it can be quite disfiguring.

Find a doctor -- most likely a dermatologist (a specialist in skin diseases) -- who is both knowledgeable about the variety of treatments available and is understanding about the emotional side of the condition. You may want to encourage the person with vitiligo to get counseling or to join a support group for help in coping with the disease.

Be sure the person with vitiligo uses sunscreen and clothing to protect skin from the sun. Depigmented skin risks sunburn, and a tan only emphasizes the difference in color. Using cosmetic products, which include stains, self-tanning lotions and makeup, can help camouflage vitiligo. It may take experimentation to find the right product and shade.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.