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King Saud University’s Vitiligo Research Chair and the Vitiligo Patients Support Group helped educate the public about the disease with a year-ending conference  at the Khurais Plaza in Riyadh.

Information about vitiligo, a condition in which there is a loss of pigment from areas of the skin and treatment options from local medication to laser were displayed during the exhibition. Presentations by trained volunteers and printed materials helped debunk misconceptions about the condition.

Chair Supervisor Professor Khalid M. AlGhamdi said exhibitions are effective in spreading medical information to vitiligo patients and added that  presentations contribute to the dissemination of correct information and rejection of misconceptions. One of the major misconceptions,  Dr. AlGhamdi said, is that there is relationship involving an individual's mental state or nutrition problem associated with vitiligo.

A recently published study by the chair’s research team involving on vitiligo and its patients perception of the condition indicated several misconceptions exist, such as that it is contagious and only afflicts people with poor personal hygiene. Other misconceptions were that the condition is hereditary and is considered disfiguring for physical beauty.

“The truth must overcome harmful fallacies,” said Professor Al-Ghamdi, adding that the chair wants to spread awareness of the condition by presenting correct, evidence-based information.

KSU’s Vitiligo Research Chair was founded in 2009 and is based in the Dermatology Department of KSU’s College of Medicine. Vitiligo occurs when melanocytes, the cells responsible for skin pigmentation (color) die or are unable to function. The cause is unknown, but research suggests that it might arise from autoimmune, genetic, oxidative stress, neural or viral causes. The condition affects all races although it is more noticeable in people with darker skin. The worldwide incidence is less than 1 percent.

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