The Impact of Vitiligo on Patients' Psychological Status and Sexual Function: Cross-Sectional Questionnaire-Based Study

Ghadah I Alhetheli1, *
1 Division of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery, College of Medicine, Qassim University, Buraydah, Saudi Arabia

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Creative Commons License
© 2021 Ghadah I Alhetheli

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at Division of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery, College of Medicine, Qassim University, Buraydah, Saudi Arabia; Tel: +966504956030; E-mail:



Vitiligo is a chronic pigmentary cutaneous disorder. Although vitiligo is not a life-threatening disease, it seriously affects patients' psychological status and Quality-of-Life (QoL). Moreover, the effect of vitiligo on genital image severely affects sexual function, especially in females.

Patients & Methods:

This cross-sectional questionnaire-based study had targeted patients with vitiligo of both genders. 173 patients who had responded to the given questionnaires were included and their responses were statistically analyzed. Patients’ files were revised for extraction of demographic and clinical data and the previous evaluation of the Vitiligo Area Scoring Index (VASI) score.

Results and Discussion:

Median VIS-22 score was in the range of 21-49, but 109 patients had a median score of 28. Seventy-eight patients had mild and 15 patients had moderate depression. Regression analysis defined the sense of being unattractive, disappointed in self and discouragement about the future as the most significant underlying causes of depression. Ninety-two patients had sexual dysfunction and scoring of satisfaction by the sexual act was the highest while scoring for the desire was the lowest. Regression analysis revealed that female gender, high ASEX and VASI scores are the significant predictors for high BDI-II. ROC curve analysis defined a high ASEX score as a significant predictor for a high BDI-II score.


The obtained results indicated a deleterious effect of vitiligo on patients’ psychological status that may progress to depression. The effects of the disease on body image, especially the genital area, induced sexual dissatisfaction with an impact on sexual function. Altogether, raise a suggested adjuvant role for psychotherapy in patients with vitiligo which might even indirectly lead to improvement of vitiligo.

Keywords: Vitiligo, Depression, Quality of life, Sexual function, Online questionnaires, Self-assessment, Psychological status, Sexual function.