Campaign spreads awareness, acceptance of people with vitiligo

By Ghadeer Ghloum

KUWAIT: Vitiligo is a skin condition characterized by loss of skin pigmentation, which results in white patches of skin. It occurs when the immune system attacks and destroys melanocytes, the cells responsible for producing pigment in the skin. According to dermatologists, there is no cure for vitiligo, but there are treatments that can help improve the appearance of the affected skin and reduce the spread of white patches.

Kuwait Medical Association (KMA) organized a program on June 10, 2023 to raise awareness about vitiligo through a booth at The Avenues mall, where a number of dermatologists specialized in vitiligo were present to educate people and encourage social acceptance of people with this condition. Kuwait Times visited KMA’s booth at The Avenues mall and interviewed Dr Sneha Mariam, a registered dermatologist at Adan Hospital.

Dr Sneha Mariam, Registered Dermatologist at Adan Hospital

“Vitiligo is an autoimmune disease, where our body does not recognize a body cell to be its own but as a foreign object and starts to fight it. The cells that are involved in this are melanocytes, which are responsible for pigmentation in the body. When melanocytes are fought, the pigmentation that is present in our body gets reduced, which causes vitiligo in an individual.

There are over 30 genes responsible for this condition. It is also hereditary — if a family member is affected, there will be an almost 5 to 10 percent risk factor of getting vitiligo,” Dr Mariam told Kuwait Times. Dr Mariam also said vitiligo is not contagious, as it is the body’s own cells that are fighting, which means it is not an infectious disease. Like diabetes or any other chronic disease, vitiligo is a lifelong condition that cannot be completely cured.

Kuwait Medical Association’s booth at The Avenues Mall. — Photos by Yasser Al-Zayya

However, the goal of treatment is to reduce the spread of the disease to other parts of the body and induce pigmentation for some of the pigment to return. This happens in some people but cannot be generalized. Dr Mariam also shed light on the most common misunderstandings people have about this condition.

She said that the most common misconceptions are related to food, such as going on a gluten-free diet or drinking milk soon after eating fish triggers vitiligo, which is not true. Dr Mariam said vitiligo is not dangerous or life-threatening, and people with this condition learn to live with it. She also emphasized the main message of the program — to spread acceptance of people with this condition, as it is not contagious and not dangerous.

The post Campaign spreads awareness, acceptance of people with vitiligo appeared first on Kuwait Times.

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