DOI: 10.1093/bjd/ljad245 ISSN: 0007-0963

Exploring the natural and treatment history of vitiligo: perceptions of patients and healthcare professionals from the global VALIANT study

Iltefat H Hamzavi, Kristen Bibeau, Pearl Grimes, John E Harris, Nanja van Geel, Davinder Parsad, Mukta Tulpule, Jackie Gardner, Yan Valle, Gaone Tlhong Matewa, Christine LaFiura, Haobo Ren, Khaled Ezzedine
  • Dermatology



Vitiligo is a chronic autoimmune disease affecting melanocytes, resulting in skin depigmentation. Patients with vitiligo often have reduced quality of life and comorbid autoimmune conditions and have reported a lack of available treatments for their vitiligo.


The Vitiligo and Life Impact Among International Communities (VALIANT) study is the first global survey to explore the natural history and management of vitiligo from the perspectives of patients and healthcare professionals (HCPs).


The survey recruited adults (≥ 18 years) diagnosed with vitiligo and HCPs treating patients with vitiligo via an online panel in 17 countries. Patients were queried regarding clinical characteristics and vitiligo treatment. HCPs were queried regarding diagnosis and management of patients with vitiligo.


Included in the analysis were 3541 patients and 1203 HCPs. Nearly half (45.2%) of the patients had > 5% affected body surface area; 57.1% reported family history. Patients obtained formal diagnosis after a mean (SD) of 2.4 (4.1) years; 44.9% reported previous misdiagnosis. Many patients (56.7%) reported being told that vitiligo could not be treated; 53.9% of HCPs believed patients who never treated their vitiligo had been told that vitiligo could not be treated. One-quarter of HCPs (26.3%) did not believe that an effective therapy for vitiligo exists; 44.6% of patients reported giving up on finding an effective therapy. Top treatment goals for patients and HCPs, respectively, were reduction or cessation of spread (24.7% and 18.5%) and repigmentation (22.5% and 37.2%). Patient perception of effective care was similar for treatment by dermatologists (66.9%) and primary care HCPs (67.0%).


Patients with vitiligo and HCPs reported similar treatment goals and expressed frustration with the lack of effective therapies. Patients reported high rates of initial misdiagnosis; many ceased seeking healthcare because they perceived that vitiligo could not be treated. The findings highlight the need for earlier diagnosis and improved disease management for vitiligo.

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