Living with vitiligo: An autoimmune condition

Posted: June 27, 2022 | Word Count: 633

By Brandpoint

Sponsored by Incyte

Vitiligo is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes depigmented, or white, patches of skin that can appear on any part of the body. The condition affects approximately 1.5 million adults in the United States, occurring with similar frequency in all ethnic groups1,2.

With World Vitiligo Day on June 25, it is an ideal time to learn more about this condition, help raise awareness of its impact on those affected and support the vitiligo community.

Understanding Vitiligo

“A journey,” “a challenge,” “a burden” – these are some of the words used to describe living with vitiligo, by people living with the condition and dermatologists who help manage it. While sometimes misperceived as cosmetic, vitiligo is a chronic autoimmune condition with a significant impact.

In people with vitiligo, the immune system attacks and destroys pigment-producing cells, resulting in skin depigmentation (loss of color) in the form of white patches, which vary in size and number from person to person. On the skin, these patches most commonly appear on the hands, feet, arms and face2. Additionally, hair can turn white in areas where the skin is losing pigment, including the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes and beard2.

The impact of vitiligo can be significant and is often often overlooked. The impact the condition can have on people’s lives is underscored by the results of a global survey, VALIANT (Vitiligo And Life Impact Among INTernational Communities), of 3,500 adults with vitiligo and health care professionals who treat patients with vitiligo. The VALIANT survey found nearly half of the people surveyed (49%) said having vitiligo made them feel less confident and more self-conscious3. Almost 60% said they had been diagnosed with mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression3. With limited management options available, people living with vitiligo can feel unsupported.

Support for the Community

Education and scientific research advances are underway to investigate the condition, which could lead to advances in how it is managed. People living with vitiligo are encouraged to have open and honest conversations with their dermatologists about their management goals and desired support.

Recognizing the needs of the vitiligo community and the importance of continued support, Incyte, a global biopharmaceutical company, has launched the Incyte Ingenuity Awards (IIA) in vitiligo. This program aims to provide resources to support innovation within the vitiligo community by funding two initiatives addressing the specific needs of people impacted by vitiligo, including patients, caregivers and their health care providers. Two awards for vitiligo-related initiatives will be offered: one up to $100,000 and another up to $35,000. Applications will be accepted from:

  • U.S. nonprofit 501(c)(3), patient, policy and caregiver organizations
  • U.S. health care providers and mid-level/junior faculty from health care organizations
  • Individuals or other companies in the U.S. who partner with either a non-profit organization or a health care facility (e.g., hospitals, academic research centers, etc.)

Additional information and applications can be accessed online at To be considered, all applications must be submitted by October 31, 2022. An independent judging panel of up to five members of the vitiligo community, including patient advocacy group leaders, physicians, nurses and/or social workers, will review the applications for the awards and recipients will be announced in March 2023.

For more information about vitiligo, visit

© 2022, Incyte Corporation. MAT-DRM-00582 06/22

1 Bowcock A, Fernandez-Vina M. Targeting Skin: Vitiligo and Autoimmunity. J Invest Dermatol. Accessed June 23, 2022.

2 National Library of Medicine. Medline Plus. Vitiligo. Accessed April 8, 2022.

3 Bibeau K, Hamzavi IH, Ezzedine K, et al. Mental Health and Psychosocial Burden Among Patients Living with Vitiligo: Findings from the Global VALIANT Survey. Presented at Maui Derm for Dermatologists, January 2022.

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