Why we care about vitiligo?

Dr Phillip Artemi has been practicing as a Specialist Dermatologist and Mohs Surgeon for over 20 years. During that time, he has served as Member of the Board of Directors, Honorary Secretary, Chairman of the Teaching Learning Committee and Director of Training for the Australasian College of Dermatologists. He has given endless numbers of presentations in Scientific Meetings, and during his career has featured prominently in the print, radio and television media.

Utilising his skills as a Dermatologic Surgeon, he visited Belgium and India in 2015 to learn the procedure “autologous melanocyte surgical transplantation” for the treatment of vitiligo. He subsequently pioneered the treatment in Australia at The Skin Hospital Westmead in 2015, where he also commenced a speciality vitiligo clinic. Dr Phillip Artemi is also Director of South West Sydney Dermatology.

During my career I have been repeatedly moved by the personal and family anguish caused by vitiligo in my patients and their families. Working with my patients, I have became aware of serious shortcomings in the services, treatment and care available to vitiligo sufferers and their families. Obstacles to proper patient care are numerous:

  • The medical profession, including some Dermatologists see vitiligo as “just a cosmetic problem” with “no cure” and best dealt with by “covering up with clothes or makeup”.
  • Vitiligo patients are frustrated at the lack of knowledge within the broader medical community on available treatment.
  • There is also often a reluctance to refer patients early for specialised treatment, and a tendency to adopt a wait and see approach rather than an immediate active management plan.
  • Vitiligo patients are concerned about the credibility of online information on vitiligo, and need reliable and detailed information to help them cope with their condition, instead of being subjected to unethical advertising that promotes unsubstantiated expensive treatment programs that preys on their vulnerable emotional state.
  • The potentially severe  psychosocial impact of vitiligo on the patient and their families has been neglected for far too long. Low self-esteem, bullying, anxiety, depression, relationship and employment problems substantially impact daily life for vitiligo sufferers and their family.

My patients personal accounts and difficulties have inspired me to develop The Vitiligo Centre Australia, to make up for the previous shortcomings in patient support and care, to help give vitiligo sufferers a voice that will be heard, to provide access to prompt effective specialist treatment, and to undertake research to help improve the treatment and management of vitiligo.