People with vitiligo can adopt certain measures in their daily lifestyle to help prevent their disease from getting worse.
Skin that has lost its colour tends to sunburn easily. Sunburn can worsen vitiligo. Getting a tan from sun exposure can also increase the contrast between white vitiligo and normal tanned skin, thereby making the vitiligo patches appear more obvious.
1. Use sunscreen everyday
- choose sunscreen lotions that are water resistant, SPF greater than 30 and offer broad spectrum (UVA + UVB) protection. Remember to reapply every 2 hours, after spending time in water or when you sweat
- apply sunscreen to all skin that is not covered by clothing
2. Wear clothing that protects you from the sun
- The ability of clothing to protect your skin against UV radiation from the sun can be measured as a UPF rating
- Some clothing comes pre-treated with UV absorbers that gives them a high UPF rating.
- In general, loose fitting, dark or brightly coloured clothing made of densely woven fabric of unbleached cotton, shiny polyester or satiny silk confers the greatest UV protection
- You can also increase the UPF of your clothing by adding UV blocking additives to the wash cycle.
3. Stay in the shade when possible
4. Do not use tanning beds and sun lamps
Take precautions to minimise skin injury and irritation
A cut, graze, scratch or friction to skin may lead to new patches of vitiligo
Avoid exposure to chemicals
Compounds containing phenols, catechols and sulfhydryls present industrial chemicals, cleaning agents and some hair dyes are known to cause loss of skin colour
Reduce mental stress
Psychological stress has been known to trigger vitiligo flare-ups perhaps through its effect on immune cells and nervous systems of the skin.
Hence maintaining good mental health is essential to controlling the disease.
Do not get a tattoo
Do not tattoo your skin other than for treatment purpose as the micro-injuries caused by tattoos can lead to new vitiligo patches
Psychological & Social Impact of Vitiligo
People with vitiligo often suffer from low self-esteem, depression and anxiety.
The appearance of the disease often affects one’s self image, makes one feel self conscious, anxious and embarrassed. It is sometimes made worst by perceived discrimination from others. Children are especially vulnerable to teasing and bullying from their peers.
The early treatment of vitiligo is always advised.
People with vitiligo are encouraged to learn more about their condition to improve their own understanding and control of the disease.
Talking and sharing experiences with other people in a similar situation via support groups can also be helpful.
Counselling provided by a psychologist is another option that is especially useful for addressing issues with self image, depression and anxiety.