Jeffrey Cohen, MD: Personalized Care for Patients with Vitiligo


Dr. Cohen of Yale details new therapeutic strategies and the different cultural perspectives regarding vitiligo.

In an interview regarding the approval of baricitinib for the treatment of moderate to severe alopecia areata by the US Food and Drug Administration, Brett King, MD, of Yale School of Medicine, noted that patients go to dermatologists for answers as well as to have health problems “resolved or remitted”.

For patients affected by vitiligo, the reasons for seeking treatment are no different.

Fortunately, Yale School of Medicine is also home to Jeffrey Cohen, MD, a fellow dermatologist who is keenly aware of the burden of disease that vitiligo presents for his patients, and the therapeutic routes that can be taken.

In an interview with HCPLive, Cohen spoke of the implications of vitiligo on mental health and social status, and the slow but ever-evolving therapeutic armamentarium for the condition.

“Your skin is obviously something that people see as soon as they meet you, and it's something that you show to the world,” Cohen said. “And for a lot of people, vitiligo- which results in loss of pigment of their skin loss in color in certain areas of their skin- can be extremely disturbing and can make them very self-conscious. Particularly, this can affect people who have darker skin tones, in ways that are very, very profound, because it's very visible.”

He added that in some cultures, there exists an incredible stigma associated with the loss of pigmentation , which further adds to the psychological burdens already associated with the disorder.

In addition to some of the traditional methods for managing vitiligo such as topical low calcium iron inhibitors, Cohen spoke of new developments in vitiligo care with the introduction of Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors and procedural treatments that feature the transference of melanocytes from areas of pigmented skin.

When asked about the potential of ruxolitinib cream-which has been approved for atopic dermatitis with a possible approval for vitiligo in the coming month-Cohen noted that the data was “quite strong”, adding that it would be “helpful to have another effective medication in the armamentarium so that some patients who do not respond to the other treatments may still benefit from ruxolitinib”.

Of course, managing vitiligo goes beyond finding the right treatments. Patients can benefit from the myriad of local support groups and larger organizations that have been established in recent years, and mental health resources are available.

“I often recommend that people who are really struggling with (vitiligo) to engage with some of those other resources that provide support for them beyond medical care that they come to my office to get,” Cohen said.

To hear more from Dr. Cohen, please watch the full video interview above.

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