World vitiligo day, is a day when millions of people across the world come together to increase awareness of vitiligo, fight prejudice and raise funds for research, support, education and to remove common myths, misinterpretation and misconceptions about the disease. The day was first celebrated in June 2011. Over the years, its purpose has broadened from raising awareness of vitiligo to including recognition of the bullying, social neglect, psychological trauma, and disability of millions of people affected by vitiligo. This day is now marked on the UN calendar of disability events.

Vitiligo is an autoimmune skin disease which can be identified by skin depigmentation due to the destruction of melanin cells in the body due to which skin loses its original color, and white spots occur. Hair, eyelashes, beard go grey, and sometimes retina’s color also changes. The awareness color for vitiligo is purple. The Latin meaning of “Vitium” is defect or blemish. Vitiligo is an immune-mediated, non-contagious as well as curable disease. It occurs in 1-5% of the population all over the world. Approximately more than 50 million people are affected. Patients complain that physicians are unaware of the treatment options.

Patients often feel distressed, depressed, frustrated and embarrassed about their appearance, which can lead to low self-esteem, fear of rejection and social withdrawal. Young women who are suffering from vitiligo have more social and psychological problems since they think nobody will marry them.

Vitiligo patients should be given psychological therapies. Oral drugs can help improve the patient’s facial pigmentation from less than 1% to over 50% in just few months. Patients should also apply some home remedies to protect their skin from sunlight. Phototherapy (treatment with light) may be used for children or adults.

Social organizations can be funded for researches about the disease because studies show that vitiligo is one of the most under-researched diseases. The patients who are suffering from the skin disease should come together and give confidence to each other and help come out of the depression.

FARHAN MIR SHAIKH,

Lahore.