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Two-thirds of those with skin condition vitiligo struggle with mental health

Two-thirds of people with vitiligo say the skin condition affects their mental health, according to a new survey.

The survey of more than 700 people by The Vitiligo Society found sufferers felt insecure and self-conscious as a result of the condition, which reduces skin pigmentation.

Eight in 10 people said vitiligo negatively affected their appearance and two-thirds said they wanted better access to GPs and dermatologists.

Vitiligo is a condition where pale white patches develop on the skin and is caused by the lack of the pigment melanin.

It can affect any area of the body but commonly happens on the face, neck and hands, and in skin creases.

Gurdeep Romany developed vitiligo as a child
Image: Gurdeep Romanay

Gurdeep Romanay, 48, from Berkshire, was diagnosed with vitiligo aged 10 and said: “I would be out in public and I’d have absolute strangers on the street going: ‘What’s wrong with your skin?’

“I’ve gone through the patchiness, as I call it, and now I’m completely white.

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“I’ve got a different challenge, where people don’t realise I’m Indian and I feel like I’ve lost my identity.”

The incurable condition can also affect people’s social and dating lives, with 46% of those surveyed saying they feel unattractive and isolated.

Natalie Ambersley has vitiligo
Image: Natalie Ambersley

Natalie Ambersley said she did not date when she was a teenager, adding: “Rather than enjoying a potential date, all I could think about was: ‘How am I was going to hide this condition for as long as possible?'”

Shankar Jaolota chose to wear makeup but said he was “super self conscious” about it “because I didn’t know any other guys wearing makeup”.

Abbie Hurrell, director of The Vitiligo Society, said: “A vitiligo diagnosis should be the start of a journey filled with information and answers to help people come to terms with the mental and physical impact of this condition, yet sadly that is often not the case.

“Too many people are left feeling dismissed and confused after their first chat with their GP.

“There needs to be better understanding among GPs and medical professionals and more support offered at diagnosis, so that we can start to address the impact on people’s mental health.

“Public behaviour also needs to change as many people with vitiligo face stares when they go out in public. We need to increase awareness and understanding of the condition so that people with vitiligo can live the lives they want.”

Sky News Source