Pigment deviation is more than just a cosmetic problem

During my dermatological consultation I come into contact with many different things, but one thing in particular stood out to me: the psychological burden caused by pigment spots. The experience of visible pigment spots can be emotionally draining. Data on the occurrence and factors that influence the psychological burden in pigment disorders are scarce.

Study on pigment spots and anxiety disorder

One study studied 100 patients with various pigment disorders, including both white and dark spots such as vitiligo, melasma, and Acquired Dermal Macular Hyperpigmentation (ADMH).

Using questionnaires, the researchers tried to find out exactly what the influence of their pigment disorders is and how this affects their quality of life, somatoform disorders, general anxiety and depression. A somatoform disorder can be defined as “a mental illness in which a person has physical complaints for which no somatic cause (physical illness) has been found”. The patient therefore experiences real physical complaints, which are not imagined

The results showed that generalized anxiety disorders occurred in 11.6%, 21% and 18.7% of patients with melasma, vitiligo and ADMH, respectively.
Depression, on the other hand, was noted in 12.8%, 27% and 24.1% of patients with melasma, vitiligo and ADMH, respectively.
Somatoform disorders were more common in vitiligo (17.9%) compared to ADMH (14.3%) and melasma (8.1%).
The overall trend in all conditions showed a proportional linear relationship between the severity of the skin disease and the intensity of the anxiety and depression.

The research shows that pigment disorders in the skin are more than just a cosmetic problem. Anxiety disorders, depression and somatoform disorders are often associated with pigmentary disorders, especially vitiligo and ADMH.


Dabas G, Vinay K, Parsad D, Kumar A, Kumaran MS. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. Psychological disturbances in patients with pigmentary disorders: a cross‐sectional study. 2020 Feb;34(2):392-399.

While you are here

What are the causes of pigment spots and what can you do about them. Read more about: pigment


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