Vitiligo: Ignoring What Is Painfully Obvious
THREE million Americans have vitiligo, an autoimmune disorder that causes patches of skin to lose pigment. The darker the skin, the more prominent the paler patches. But for people of every shade, vitiligo can cause distress as strangers gawk and job interviews become sidetracked.
From topical creams to ultraviolet-light treatments to surgery, there are a host of treatments for vitiligo (pronounced vit-uh-LYE-go), none of them perfect, none of them a cure. But many dermatologists tell patients flatly that treatments don’t exist, vitiligo specialists and patient advocates say. The medical advice is that “this is a cosmetic condition that we cannot treat,” said Dr. Pearl E. Grimes, the director of the Vitiligo and Pigmentation Institute of Southern California in Los Angeles. “Patients really don’t know what their options are. That’s the tragedy.”