Live, enjoy and dare..... also with vitiligo!

Psychosocial factors

Patrick Kemperman about psychodermatology…

It has been known for a long time that skin diseases can be associated with psychological complaints. For example, stress can affect the skin. But conversely, a skin disease can also cause stress. The result is that many patients can develop psychological complaints related to their skin condition. This is what we call psychodermatology, a very broad field that has similarities with both psychology and dermatology.

Vitiligo can also affect daily functioning, and everyone deals with this differently. For example, some patients have been able to accept the skin condition, while others tend to hide the skin condition. It is mainly the latter group that ultimately develops more psychological complaints such as fears, tension and depressive feelings. Patients can also experience social stigmatization (feeling different from others, feeling watched) due to the visibility of the skin condition. The perceived stigma has a major impact on psychological functioning.

It is important to identify and discuss these psychological complaints. For example, there are questionnaires that can provide insight into the problems that patients experience in daily life. These questionnaires can reveal pain points before someone talks to his or her dermatologist. For example, in what area could someone use additional support from a psychologist?

The psychological guidance depends on what a person is encountering, but most skin patients who are referred to a psychologist have difficulty accepting their disease. But feelings of depression, anxiety or shame can also play a role. A psychologist can provide guidance in this. The psychologist cannot remove the cause, but he can provide tools on how to deal with certain situations, such as people staring at you.

Do you recognize psychological complaints due to your vitiligo?
Your GP or dermatologist can put you in touch with a psychologist.

Patrick Kemperman
is a dermatologist whose area of interest includes psychodermatology.

He works at the Amsterdam UMC (SNIP) and at the Dijklander Hospital in Purmerend.