Background Vitiligo affects around 0·5% of the population. The burden of disease perceived by patients seems to be underestimated by the medical community.
Objectives To analyse the impact of objective and psychological factors on the quality of life (QoL) and self-body image of patients with vitiligo.
Methods Demographic data, medical information and psychological factors (perceived severity, trait anxiety, trait depression, trait self-esteem, body image and QoL) were prospectively collected for all patients.
Results Forty-eight patients with a mean age of 43·9 years were included in the study. Vitiligo caused overall a moderate effect on patients’ QoL with a 7·17 Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI) mean score (out of 30) without correlation with gender. According to distribution, no or minimal (DLQI 0–1), mild (2–5), moderate (6–11) and severe (12–20) impairment of QoL was found in five (10%), 14 (29%), 18 (38%) and 11 (23%) patients, respectively. The mean perceived severity evaluated by the patients was 4·91 based on visual analogue scale from 0 to 10. The self-body image was influenced by gender, perceived severity and disease characteristics. Perceived severity and patient personality were predictors of QoL impairment. Perceived severity of vitiligo was explained mainly by the patients’ personality and less significantly by objective criteria.
Conclusions Subjective as well as objective factors should be included in the assessment of disease severity and follow-up of patients with vitiligo. A simple perceived severity scale is useful in clinical practice.