How to help a friend with vitiligo

I once met someone who would not answer at all when asked about his vitiligo spots. I think he never had the time to absorb the changes he was going through and therefore was totally blocking this subject.

A person diagnosed with vitiligo might experience anything from loss of self confidence to deep depression. The fear of patches expanding quickly over visible areas can have a high impact around the age when one is most conscious about his appearance.

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Counseling for vitiligo patients

A bill initiated in by Brazilian representative José Olimpio pursues hospitals to provide psychological assistance to people with vitiligo. The text proposes that psychological treatment could be offered after an initial assessment by a psychologist.

The representative pointed out that vitiligo patients can be more successful in their treatment after counseling: "Often, people go into depression when diagnosed with the disease. This further aggravates the situation", he writes. The project is to be further analyzed by a committee before being brought forward.

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The Koebner response in vitiligo

The Koebner phenomenon refers to the development of new lesions following skin trauma. This occurs in patients with certain skin disease in areas of traumatized but otherwise normal skin. The new lesions are clinically identical to those in diseased skin.

Koebner is not common only to vitiligo. It has been observed in other common skin conditions such as psoriazis, eczema and other rarer diseases. In fact, Heinrich Koebner, the dermatologist who first described it, made his initial observations on patients with psoriasis appearing at the site of horse bites or tattoos.

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Vitiligo concealers

Some dermatologists recommend patients to cosmetically cover their vitiligo spots. This is associated with an improved quality of life since it reduces public stares or remarks. On the downside, covering up with makeup is time consuming - interfering with daily activities and in some cases, distress generating – the concern of permanently hiding something

These opaque foundations are especially designed to mask skin disorders such as vitiligo and are different from normal makeup.

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How to follow a vitiligo treatment plan

Following a strict plan of UV sessions like the one needed for vitiligo treatment can be a daunting task. Up to 6 months of home photo-therapy with 3 or 4 weekly sessions take a lot of time. Missing out on a UV session can result in a decrease of the overall efficiency of the treatment.

This is where a smart-phone can come in handy. I've set 3 weekly reminders in the calendar of my Nokia phone in order to receive a screen notification each day a photo-therapy session is due. The reminder triggers an audio alarm in the evening, around the treatment time.

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SCENESSE: Clinical trials for new vitiligo treatment - part 2

Clinuvel, the company developing a new drug for vitiligo has published another press release. I've had the chance to ask Lacian Hay, Head of Clinuvel's Global Network and Communications a few questions not covered in the original text of the press release but of practical importance to vitiligo patients.

How will the injections be administered: in the dermatologist's office or will treatment kits be available in pharmacies (for home use)?

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SCENESSE: Clinical trials for new vitiligo treatment - part 1

A new drug called Scenesse is being developed and tested by Clinuvel, an Australian company. Currently it is in phase II and III of clinical trials. Clinuvel states that it's product will be an effective therapy in nonsegmental vitiligo (symmetry in the vitiligo spots on one's body).

A clear date for it's commercial release is not yet known.

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