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Vitiligo: Factors Affecting Patients’ Quality of Life
Little is known about factors affecting the quality of life of patients with vitiligo. Vitiligo is a chronic depigmentation disorder characterised by well-demarcated white macules and patches, reflecting selective melanocyte destruction. The condition affects about two per cent of the population and remains a major challenge in dermatology.
Although vitiligo is generally asymptomatic, it profoundly impacts quality of life. Many patients experience stigmatisation, low self-esteem and social isolation due to their unusual appearance. Vitiligo is often regarded as a cosmetic issue, and impairment of quality of life tends to be underestimated.
A questionnaire-based study was conducted over one year with 1,123 patients with vitiligo in Korea. The study aimed to explore patients’ quality of life and to identify factors affecting it.
Of the enrolled participants, 609 were male and 514 were female, aged between 20 and 84 years. Patients whose affected body parts were more visible and who had a larger affected surface area had consistently worse impairment in their quality of life. Patients aged between 20 and 59 years, who potentially had a more active social life than older patients, suffered from the most severe functional impairment. Patients with a higher educational background suffered from the most severe emotional impairment.
In the questionnaire, patients were concerned about:
- I worry that my skin condition may get worse (74·6 per cent of patients)
- I worry that my skin condition may be serious (62·9 per cent)
- My skin condition is a problem for the people I love (55·6 per cent)
- My skin condition makes me feel depressed (53·5 per cent)
- I worry about getting scars from my skin condition (49·8 per cent)
- I am ashamed of my skin condition (49·7 per cent)
- I am annoyed by my skin condition (47·6 per cent)
- My skin condition affects my social life (45 per cent)
- I am angry about my skin condition (44·8 per cent)
- My skin is sensitive (43·3 per cent)
- My skin condition makes it hard to work or do hobbies (42·7 per cent)
- I am embarrassed by my skin condition (41 per cent)
- My skin is irritated (37·9 per cent)
- I am frustrated by my skin condition (35·6 per cent)
- My skin condition affects my interactions with others (35·4 per cent)
- My skin condition affects how close I can be with those I love (32·8 per cent)
- My skin condition makes showing affection difficult (30·5 per cent)
- I am humiliated by my skin condition (29·6 per cent)
- My skin itches (29·1)
- I tend to do things by myself because of my skin condition (27·5 per cent)
- My skin condition makes me tired (26·4 per cent)
- I tend to stay at home because of my skin condition (26·3 per cent)
The study concluded that a multitude of factors significantly influence the quality of life of patients with vitiligo, and that a better appreciation of these factors would help the management of these patients.
Bae, J. M. et al. (January 2018.) Factors affecting quality of life in patients with vitiligo: a nationwide study. British Journal of Dermatology. Volume 178, Issue 1, Pages 238–244. DOI: 10.1111/bjd.15560.
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