What is Vitiligo
Vitiligo is a condition that causes patchy loss of skin coloring (pigmentation). The average age of onset of vitiligo is in the mid-twenties, but it can appear at any age. It tends to progress over time, with larger areas of the skin losing pigment. Vitiligo affect 1% of the worlds population which equates to 77 million people around the world, all shapes, colours, races can have vitiligo. Some people with vitiligoalso have patches of pigment loss affecting the hair on their scalp or body.
Researchers have identified several forms of vitiligo. Generalized vitiligo(also called nonsegmental vitiligo), which is the most common form, involves loss of pigment (depigmentation) in patches of skin all over the body. Depigmentation typically occurs on the face, neck, and scalp, and around body openings such as the mouth and genitals. Sometimes pigment is lost in mucous membranes, such as the lips. Loss of pigmentation is also frequently seen in areas that tend to experience rubbing, impact, or other trauma, such as the hands, arms, and places where bones are close to the skin surface (bony prominences). Another form called segmental vitiligo is associated with smaller patches of depigmented skin that appear on one side of the body in a limited area; this occurs in about 10 percent of affected individuals.
Vitiligo is generally considered to be an autoimmune disorder. Autoimmune disorders occur when the immune system attacks the body's own tissues and organs. In people with vitiligo the immune system appears to attack the pigment cells (melanocytes) in theskin. About 15 to 25 percent of people with vitiligo are also affected by at least one other autoimmune disorder, particularly autoimmune thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, psoriasis, pernicious anemia, Addison disease, or systemic lupus erythematosus.
In the absence of other autoimmune conditions, vitiligo does not affect general health or physical functioning. However, concerns about appearance and ethnic identity are significant issues for many affected individuals.
I noticed a white patch in my scalp behind my left ear when i was around 18 years old give or take as it's very hard to remember. I had no idea what it was and went to my GP who gave me a generic print out on vitiligo and referred me to see a dermatologist with The British red Cross. From what i can remember I was given another generic print out on vitiligo and then I was shown some camouflage make up in various colours it was called dermacolor. They spoke about me learning how to camouflage my vitiligo patches which by this point had spread to my face and breast. I was prescribed this make up so i was able to get the concealer type cream along with a setting powder for free. They also prescribed a factor 50 sunscreen. In my early 20s into my early 30s I became very good at covering my vitiligo patches using the make up and I would not go out without any make up on. Not a single person would see me showing my vitiligo patches. I didn't speak about it often and I was in total denial. I didn't enjoy it when I was asked what the patches were, usually because I'd sometimes be asked in a negative tone, or they'd ask if it was burns which made me feel uncomfortable and uneasy. I didn't have any desire to research my condition and I knew nothing about what caused it or that it was actually in fact an autoimmune disorder. I only found this out when I was pregnant with my daughter at 28 years old during an appointment with my midwife when I selected no on a form to have an autoimmune disorder she asked me if I had vitiligo and then explained to me the connection. Although I knew this I still felt a disconnection between myself and the fact I had vitiligo. I would say the past two years since vitiligo has been in the public eye more due to the Americas next top model contestant Winnie Harlow i've started to accept my condition more and more and started wearing make up to cover up less and less. I started to notice that I felt more comforatable having conversations about my vitiligo especially if someone asks me inquisitively. In the last year not only do I not wear make up every day and have conversations about my vitiligo I also have began to research the condition and use social media to look up other's who have it. I've been approached by others who have vitiligo in the street just to talk aswell as family members of people who have vitiligo have approached me to connect also, which is very fulfilling. This year has been a turning point in how I look at myself in the mirror. I've always been described as a confident girl who likes to make a fashion statement but vitiligo definately made me crumble at times mostly when intimate. This has contributed to me wanting to acknowledge my condition and love myself in my own skin as opposed to finding a treatment or 'cure' I am not where I want to be but im on my way and ive decided to do something about it. I want to raise awareness on the condition through information and also through fashion. I want to create my own tops dresses and bags. I want kids and adults to to know what vitiligo is when they see it so that they do not make people with vitiligo feel bad. I also want to push the fact that if you have vitiligo you don't have to camouflage or look fot treatments but to self love and to build confidence. I want the health care services to think about the fact that maybe someone with vitiligo might have self esteem issues or mental health and to address this also.