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Vitiligo: how do young people experience this skin depigmentation? A first study sheds light on the topic

What psychological impact can vitiligo, this chronic skin disease characterized by white spots, have? For the first time, a large study conducted by IFOP with the Incyte Biosciences France laboratory, the French Vitiligo Association and the Baltasar company, focuses on how young people experience this disease and its stigmatization.

In France, not everyone necessarily knows the Canadian model Winnie Harlow, so identifiable thanks to her vitiligo, which she has managed to transform into a strong point. But we all visualize Édouard Philippe. The country was able to see the progression of this chronic skin disease on the former Prime Minister’s beard, eyebrows and hair. But how do ordinary people live with this benign autoimmune disease, which however can have a great impact on self-esteem, especially among young people, due to its stigma? The French Institute of Public Opinion (IFOP) carried out an unprecedented study on the subject between 12 and 25 years of age with the Incyte Biosciences France laboratory, the French Vitiligo Association and the Baltasar company.

31% of young people fear that vitiligo is contagious (even if it is not)

This research was conducted in two parts. Thanks to the in-depth testimonies of 12 patients to better understand their experiences in a qualitative way, on the one hand. And also quantitatively, measuring the perceptions of 1,000 young people about skin diseases, including vitiligo, to produce quantitative statistics.

The result in particular is that only 30% of young people declare ” know about vitiligo “. The least informed are middle school students, and it is precisely in middle school that the stigma of vitiligo is strongest: “ only 34% of university students would accept physical contact with someone with the disease and only 38% would accept interacting with them », Reports the study, released in particular by the French Vitiligo Association. All this ignorance leads to a lot of waste: 31% of young people who met a person with vitiligo feared that it was contagious (42% for men and 19% for women). Spoilers : It is not contagious.


While vitiligo is benign, its stigma has a significant impact on the mental health of young people

Obviously, 76% of participants believe that society’s view of people with vitiligo is harmful to their mental health. Among 12-25 year olds with a visible skin problem, 26% say they have been a victim of violence, stigmatization or harassment. This means that it is essential to better inform and raise awareness about different skin conditions, a fortiori in such a crucial period for the construction of identity and self-esteem as adolescence.

Note that the vast majority of cases of vitiligo begin before the age of 30. This affects one million French people, more than 50% of whom suffer from psychosocial comorbidities. Anxiety and depressive disorders, social phobia, emotional and relational difficulties do not derive from vitiligo, but from its stigmatization by society due to ignorance.


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Source: Madmoizelle

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