COVID-19 caused by SARS-CoV-2 and declared as a global pandemic on 12 March 2020 by the World Health Organisation has raised many public health concerns across the world. For people with vitiligo, many are concerned of their health outcomes and vitiligo in the setting of the COVID-19 pandemic. So here is what the experts have to say so far about COVID-19 and vitiligo.
Does vitiligo increase my risk of contracting COVID-19 or potentially cause a worser health outcome?
Associate Professor John E. Harris, Director of the Vitiligo Clinic and Research Center at the University of Massachusetts Medical School have addressed these questions here. From a disease perspective, vitiligo is an autoimmune condition which causes the focal destruction of melanocytes. For most people with vitiligo, the immunity against infections such as COVID-19 should not be affected. While there is a condition called Common Variable Immunodeficiency Syndrome which can co-exist with vitiligo and in theory could cause increased risk of COVID-19, these cases are tremendously rare.
How does my management for vitiligo affect my risk of contracting COVID-19?
As Associate Professor John E. Harris have addressed above, therapies for vitiligo including topical and systemic treatments are unlikely to increase the risk of getting COVID-19. A publication by Dr Michelle Rodrigues, founder and director of Chroma Dermatology Pigment and Skin Colour Centre in Melbourne as well as chair of the global narrative committee of the Global Vitiligo Foundation, titled ‘Treatment recommendations for patients with vitiligo during COVID-19’ have recently been released here. The article offers advice to health professions on ways to continue treatment for patients with vitiligo in a safe manner during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Can I get vaccinated against COVID-19 if I have vitiligo?
This question has also been addressed by Associate Professor John E. Harris (here) as well as dermatologist Dr Richard H. Huggins (here) who serves on the board of directors of the Global Vitiligo Foundation. It is encouraged for everyone including people with vitiligo to undergo vaccination against COVID-19. It is not anticipated that the vaccine will have reduced efficacy and increased adverse events in those with vitiligo although these factors are currently being monitored. Given the potential risks of contracting and spread of COVID-19, it is recommended that everyone gets vaccinated.
For any health specific questions regarding vitiligo or COVID-19, we encourage you to relay your concerns to your doctor.