You wish to marry a girl whose father has vitiligo. I don’t see any problem with that if you are mature enough to understand and accept a few ‘possible’ consequences of vitiligo. After all, she is your girlfriend for her good looks, wonderful heart and overall pleasing personality. Her father’s skin challenge should not bother you too much.
Vitiligo is an autoimmune skin condition which causes loss of skin pigment (skin’s natural color) to cause white spots on the body. This skin condition can be localized, affecting a few areas of the body, or, can be widespread covering a large area. The effect varies from person to person.
Medically, it is not life-threatening. It doesn’t affect the life-expectancy of a person. However, person with vitiligo are at increased risk of other autoimmune health problems such as diabetes and thyroid problems. (3, 4, 5)
In short, apart from affecting the physical appearance of a person, vitiligo doesn’t pose any serious risks to the affected person or the family and people around.
The hereditary risk of Vitiligo
You are curious if your girlfriend or your future kids will also develop vitiligo because of her father? Well, that’s a tricky query to answer.
Being an autoimmune health issue, vitiligo does have a genetic component. Various case studies have indicated that in 15-25% cases, vitiligo can pass on to future generations- from parents to kids or from grandparents to grandchildren. (6, 7) Thus, there is a possibility that your girlfriend or the future kids may develop vitiligo at any stage of their life. But, it happens randomly and almost impossible to predict if it will affect your girlfriend or the future generations.
Various environmental factors also play a crucial role in triggering the onset of genetic problems such as vitiligo. For instance, obesity and smoking are two of the most common triggers that can activate the faulty genes. (8) Thus, people with family history of genetic problems should ensure a healthy lifestyle by maintaining healthy body weight and staying away from unhealthy practices such as cigarette smoking.
The Vitiligo stigma
Vitiligo is not the only genetic problem today. But, there is a long list of common genetic problems as below:
- High blood pressure
- Heart problems
- Thyroid conditions
- Various liver and kidney ailments
- and many more
But, the people with these above health problems doesn’t face society’s discriminatory behavior because they are not visible on the skin. On the contrary, vitiligo white spots on the skin invite a lot of public attention and cause stigma. The lack of public awareness and acceptance is the real culprit here.
I am quite sure you wouldn’t have any problems if your girlfriend’s father would have had diabetes or any other genetic problem instead of vitiligo. Certainly, the highly visible nature of vitiligo is scaring you.
The possible complications associated with Vitiligo
So far, we have discussed that vitiligo itself is not that harmful, but, the negative perception about this ‘innocent’ skin condition is the real problem. Now, let’s quickly go through the possible complications associated with it:
- Vitiligo has a weak genetic component and hence, we can’t reject the possibility that your girlfriend or the future generations may develop vitiligo.
- Vitiligo generally affects the skin. But, in some cases, it may cause premature graying of hairs also. (9)
- Overall vitiligo is not painful. But, the vitiligo affected areas may become sensitive to excessive heat such as Sunlight and flame of the kitchen gas stove.
- Vitiligo increases the risk of other autoimmune conditions, including thyroid disorders and diabetes. (6, 7)
Can I marry a girl whose father has vitiligo?
Make it a 3-step decision making process.
- Make up your mind– Educate yourself with the right kind of knowledge about vitiligo and understand all the future scenarios. It will help you take the right decision.
- Convince your parents– This is the most crucial part. You can’t afford to bypass your parents in this most important decision of your life. After marriage, your girlfriend will come to stay with you in your house and spend a lot of time with your parents and family members. Hence, make sure they accept her wholeheartedly without any negative mindset about her father’s skin condition.
- Discuss with your girlfriend and her family– The final step would be to tell your girlfriend and her family about your decision. Be informed that stress is the worst enemy of vitiligo and marriage itself is a stressful event where you and your girlfriend would need to make a lot of adjustments. Thus, both of you and your family members should be on the same platform to avoid any unnecessary stress (related to vitiligo) after the marriage.
The final words
We have tried to give you a brief but concise overview of vitiligo to the best of our knowledge. Now, the final decision is up to you. There is no place for doubt or risk in a lifetime commitment such as marriage. There are many incidences where vitiligo has become the reason for bitterness in marriage and even resulted in divorce. Thus, take your time and go ahead with the decision you feel is good in the best interest of you and your girlfriend.