In VITILIGO CENTER, we always pay attention and show sensitivity to the cases of children suffering from vitiligo. Usually, vitiligo appears in a child after a shock, grief, or after a period of intense stress.
While most treatments are not appropriate for children because of all the side effects they cause, at VITILIGO CENTER we have the advantage of being able to treat children as young as two years old, because of the individualized preparation of the medication, the potency of which we can adjust accordingly, starting from very small doses of the active ingredient.
Child vitiligo and psychology
Even though we know that vitiligo is not dangerous, and it doesn’t pose a “threat” to children’s physical health, it is capable of affecting their psychology, especially during prepubescence and pubescence. Children with vitiligo may be emotionally traumatized, as vitiligo leaves its mark not only on the patient’s body, but also on the soul. Some children may handle the situation without special treatment; others may not.
Vitiligo may make children appear to be different from their peers; we need to supply them with the necessary self-confidence and self-esteem.
Even though we may feel anger and frustration over what ‘happened’ to our children, we should never show this to them. We must try to be open to other people’s questions, even to encourage them. When the other children pay attention to you and understand what those white spots are, chances are they will continue to play and never bring up the subject again. In such an instance, we need to emphasize to them that vitiligo is not an infectious disease.
If the child is young and is about to start going to a new school, it would be best to communicate with the teacher prior to the beginning of the school year, and ask how the school handles similar matters. During the adjustment period, if one of the parents is present in class with the child, it would be advisable to encourage questions from other children and parents. As long as any questions are answered from the beginning, chances are that everything will move along smoothly.
When your child is in a new class, or a new activity, a friend who already knows and is comfortable with your child’s difference in appearance can play a key role. Never advise the child to ‘hide’ the condition. S/he must feel confident s/he has your unconditional love and acceptance.
Encourage outdoor activities: swimming in a pool with friends, going for a vacation by the sea, trips, soccer; it is best not to stay in the house because s/he wants to hide her/his skin. Also, encourage children to take up a hobby they like and are good at. If they feel they are good at something, and better than others, this will provide them with both self-confidence and courage.
It is absolutely normal both for your child and yourself to feel frustrated from time to time and feel the need to vent. As we mentioned already, as far as you are concerned, it is better if the child doesn’t see any concerns you might have. If you feel that you have a hard time handling a situation, advice and psychological support from an expert could help you adequately, so that your child feels that you are strong and s/he draws from you the strength and sense of security s/he needs.
If the child gets outraged, make sure you stand by your child and show empathy and affection. The child shouldn’t think that s/he has to be happy all the time, but that it’s normal to feel upset from time to time.
If the onset of vitiligo is caused by some traumatic experience, shock, grief, loss, or any other stressful event, it is possible that the child isn’t over it. In such a case, psychological support from a child psychologist could prove helpful.
As children grow up and are in a position to understand and explain to other people what the condition is, it would help to train them on what they can answer to those who ask about it. You could role-play questions from other people and possible answers. This will make them feel prepared when such a question comes, and it won’t allow them to feel ambushed or embarrassed when you are not standing next to them.
Try to listen to your child, and understand how s/he sees the situation and which way s/he prefers to answer to other people. It would also help your child to watch occasionally photographs or videos of other patients, which are now available in abundance on the internet. This way, s/he will feel that there are many other children in the world who experience what s/he experiences and feel what s/he feels. Secrecy and apprehension over whether you should share with your child true information about the condition is not the right approach.
In VITILIGO CENTER, we daily deal with cases of children of all ages suffering from vitiligo. Some of them look for new friends with the same condition and may be located near you. Contact us to bring you together!