Self-management

The following self-care tactics may help you care for your skin and improve its appearance:

  • Protect your skin from the sun and artificial sources of UV light. If you have vitiligo, particularly if you have light skin, use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Apply sunscreen generously and reapply every two hours — or more often if you're swimming or sweating.

    You can also seek shade and wear clothing that shields your skin from the sun. Don't use tanning beds and sunlamps.

    Protecting your skin from the sun helps prevent sunburn and long-term damage. A bad sunburn can make your condition worse. Sunscreen also minimizes tanning, which makes the contrast between normal and discolored skin less noticeable.

  • Conceal affected skin. Concealing products may improve the appearance of the skin and help you feel better about yourself, especially if your vitiligo patches are on exposed skin. You may need to try several brands of makeup or self-tanners to find one that blends well with your normal skin tone. The coloring of self-tanning products doesn't wash off, but it gradually fades over several days. If you use a self-tanner, select one that contains dihydroxyacetone, as it is approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
  • Don't get a tattoo. Avoid tattooing that's not related to treating your vitiligo. Damage to your skin, such as that caused by a tattoo, may cause a new patch of vitiligo to appear within two weeks.

You may feel stressed, self-conscious, sad, ashamed or even devastated by the change in your appearance caused by vitiligo. You may feel that the condition limits your ability to go about your daily activities, especially if it's widespread or affects visible areas of your body, such as the face, hands, arms and feet.

These tips may help you cope with vitiligo:

  • Make a good connection. Find a doctor who knows a lot about the condition. A dermatologist is a doctor who specializes in the care of skin.
  • Learn all about it. Find out as much as you can about the condition and your treatment options so that you can help decide what steps to take.
  • Communicate your feelings. Let your doctor know if you're feeling depressed. He or she can refer you to a mental health provider who specializes in helping people with depression.
  • Talk with others. Ask your doctor about psychotherapy or support groups in your area for people with vitiligo.
  • Confide in loved ones. Seek understanding and support from your family and friends.
May 18, 2017
References
  1. Grimes PE. Vitiligo: Management and prognosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 1, 2017.
  2. Lebwohl MG, et al. Vitiligo. In: Treatment of Skin Disease: Comprehensive Therapeutic Strategies. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2014. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Feb. 1, 2017.
  3. Felsten LM, et al. Vitiligo: A comprehensive overview. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2011;65:493.
  4. Whitton ME, et al. Interventions for vitiligo (review). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://www.thecochranelibrary.com/view/0/index.html for link to abstract online. Accessed Feb. 1, 2017.
  5. Fleissig E, et al. Risk of sensorineural hearing loss in patients with vitiligo. Audiology and Neurotology. 2013;18:240.
  6. Craiglow BG, et al. Tofacitinib citrate for the treatment of vitiligo: A pathogenesis-directed therapy. JAMA Dermatology. 2015;151:1110.
  7. Ezzedine K, et al. Interventions for vitiligo. JAMA. 2016;316:1708.
  8. AskMayoExpert. Vitiligo. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2016.
  9. Vitiligo. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/u---w/vitiligo. Accessed Feb. 1, 2017.
  10. Questions and answers about vitiligo. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Vitiligo/default.asp. Accessed Feb. 1, 2017.