FAQHow can I explain vitiligo to my children?

Vitiligo can be puzzling for a child because a person who has it isn't "ill" in a common sense. 

To choose the right words to explain vitiligo diagnosis to a child, first consider their age and modify the conversation to make it age-appropriate. The following tips can help you to kick-start the conversation:

  • Younger children: I have a polka dots on my skin. It does not hurt but I have to take medicine from the doctor to make it go away.
  • Teens: I have an illness called vitiligo. It means my immune system isn't working right, and it makes my skin lose color. There isn't a cure yet, but the doctors have lots of different medicines that can help my skin.

Realize that this will not be one but rather a series of conversations, possibly stretched over days or weeks. 

  1. Pick a good time, when your child most receptive to a serious conversation: on a car ride, before bed or any other time.
  2. Give information piece by piece and then wait for questions to come. Some may have “are you going to die like Michael Jackson?” type of question, other will have more practical questions like whether you will go to the beach this year. 
  3. Explain it’s not their fault. Some children may blame themselves for a parent’s disease - because of being naughty or an occasional trauma during your recent family vacation. It is important to be clear about their lack of fault.
  4. Make them feel secure. Counter their possible fears by explaining that there will be no day-to-day changes, and their routines will be the same.
  5. DO NOT share your personal concerns with children, such as financial cost of treatment and how it may affect your profession.