THE June 25th is a day dedicated to vitiligo awareness, awareness of the challenges patients face, but also its acceptance and destigmatization. In Europe, the prevalence of vitiligo is estimated at 1%, while in our country it is estimated that it concerns about 100,000 patients.

Vitiligo is a chronic, acquired skin condition that in most patients has an autoimmune etiology. It is characterized by the appearance of white spots on the skin, which are caused by the loss of the skin pigment, melanin. It can appear anywhere on the body, has the same frequency of occurrence between the sexes and manifests itself at any age, but usually its initial symptoms appear before the age of 30.

Beyond its skin manifestations, vitiligo is associated with a significant psychosocial burden. According to studies, people with vitiligo often experience intense stress, reduced self-confidence, low self-esteem and symptoms of anxiety or depression, while an increased percentage report that they have experienced stigma due to their vitiligo.

“Vitiligo is a chronic, autoimmune skin disease. It creates strong aesthetic problems, due to the discolouration it causes, but without threatening the physical health of the sufferers” said, on the occasion of World Vitiligo Day, Dr. Ioannis Barkis, dermatologist – venereologist, Ph.D. School of Medicine EKPA and president of the Hellenic Dermatology & Venereology Society (EDAE).

He added that EDAE creates and conducts public awareness campaigns and supports efforts aimed at promoting knowledge to provide useful information about all autoimmune diseases.

“The response to the existing treatments to date is not satisfactory, because a partial restoration of the color is achieved in the affected skin. The new therapeutic data are particularly encouraging, as new innovative treatments have been developed and approved for the treatment of vitiligo with high response rates, which gives us great optimism for the future,” said Mr. Barkis.

He noted that it is important for patients to visit their dermatologist in a timely manner, as only in collaboration with him “will the appropriate therapeutic path be found and they will really see the symptoms subside significantly and their lives improve.”

Vitiligo is a chronic skin disease with an autoimmune background

“Vitiligo has, in most patients, an autoimmune etiology. For this reason, patients with vitiligo may also suffer from another autoimmune disease, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Other diseases that may co-exist are alopecia areata and atopic dermatitis,” said Dr. Elektra Nikolaidou, professor of Dermatology – Aphrodisiology, 1st Clinic of Aphrodisiacs and Skin Diseases, EKPA School of Medicine, “Andreas Syggros” Aphrodisiacs & Skin Diseases Hospital.

The professor added that patients with vitiligo report a significant burden on their quality of life from the disease. “Vitiligo significantly affects their daily life, their emotional state and their mental health. Anxiety disorder and depression are very common in vitiligo patients. Stigma, sleep disturbances, difficulty in interpersonal relationships and a tendency to limit activities are very often reported by patients. The burden is greater in women, in young patients and in patients with extensive disease or disease in visible areas of the skin” added Mrs. Nicolaidou and emphasized: “New treatment options for the disease are expected to significantly improve this burden ».