Vitiligo Friday: Q & A


Hey there! If you’ve been reading my blog regularly, you’ll know that I recently started a full time job. By recently, I mean this week. Needless to say, I’ve definitely been short on time. With the added responsibilities of dogs that are old and need lots of love and care, and other home tasks, I haven’t been able to film the video exposing a vitiligo scam, which I mentioned in last week’s Valentine’s post.

However, this week I will post a Q & A about vitliigo, for anyone who wants a quick run-down of the viti-basics.

Q: What is it?
A: Vitiligo is a mysterious loss of pigmentation in the skin. It is thought to be an autoimmune disorder, which means that the body attacks the skin cells that produce skin color, called melanocytes. Melanocytes produce melanin, the brown pigment in skin.

Q: Is it contagious?
A: No. Vitiligo is absolutely not contagious, but if someone with self diagnosed vitiligo actually had a skin fungal infection, that’s another story. That is why it is very important to go to a dermatologist as soon as possible for diagnosis. As far as I know skin fungus is curable; many believe vitiligo is not …

Q: Is vitiligo curable?
A: While there is no well known cure for vitiligo, there are many treatments – some better than others. Allopathic (western medicine) treatments include phototherapy, topical steroids in cream form, oral medication, skins grafts (ouch), melanocyte transplantation (different than skin grafting), and skin bleaching. However, any good doctor will admit that success rate for repigmentation is guess-work even in best case scenarios. A substantial number of people have turned to natural remedies, and they swear by certain healthy foods (green smoothies, spinach, vegetarian diet, less or no alcohol, less or no sugar, etc.), good sleep (which works for me – odd I know), herbal supplements (like ginkgo biloba), and stress reduction (yoga, meditation, massages, tea, breathing well, staying positive). I plan to do more research on this topic and will be posting about it soon. (Note: DO NOT BE SCAMMED BY “VILITIGO TREATMENT SYSTEMS!” Do thorough research. Hell, email me and we’ll look it up together. But be AWARE that there are many scams out there.)

Q: What causes vitiligo?
A: The cause is unknown, though at least the onset of vitiligo is believed to be specifically stress-linked. (In my case, it certainly was.) Some also believe that vitiligo is hereditary. If you have been diagnosed with vitiligo, do not let anyone tell you that you have not bathed properly or eaten well. Those potential causes have already been ruled out. As aforementioned, healthy eating, sleeping, and lifestyle choices could help in the process of repigmentation, but those factors do not necessarily cause the skin condition.

Q: What do I do if I think I have vitiligo?
A: Here is a video detailing what you should do if you think you have vitiligo:

Q: My friend or family member has vitiligo. How can I help?
A: Be understanding. Many people with vitiligo, especially in visible places, struggle with body image issues and social anxiety. People stare. Believe your friend when (s)he tells you this! Make sure you’re available to listen closely. Blowing off steam is the best way to healthily deal with the emotional pressure of judging eyes. Reassure your loved friend or family member that they are as wonderful as ever. A difference in skin hasn’t changed who they are, and they deserve to be happy. Connect them with resources! There are online forums where others with vitiligo can connect and talk about similar experiences. (see below)

Q: I have vitiligo. Please help!
A: Talk with friends and family, a lot. Fingers crossed they have friendly ears.If they don’t, find friends online through trusted sites. (But don’t give too much personal information!) Blow off steam, don’t keep it in! Vent away!! But also remember that the goal is not to run yourself into the ground with negative thoughts or to beat yourself up for something you didn’t choose to have. Make it your goal to be comfortable in public in your own skin, regardless of what others ask or do. You’ll find that your happy eyes and smiling face will pull positive people into your life.

Here is a short list of some online resources I have found:
Connect with your fellow vitiligo friends on this site. Share your story. Talk with others. See and share photos.
Scroll through this simple grid of photos of many people with vitiligo. You are not alone.
My YouTube channel
If you want to 🙂 I have several vitiligo videos and more to come.
Seriously. Search “vitiligo story” or “my vitiligo.”
Remember, to take tips from people who look glowing and positive in their videos!
Learn more about vitiligo on Web MD
What are the risks (few), what is the latest medical knowledge, how many people have it, etc.?

If you struggle with people staring, watch this video:

If you are interested in having any kind of treatment, it’s good to research things like what type of vitiligo you have, and the kind of treatments that may be most effective for that type.

As always, feel free to contact me @arunagee on twitter, in a comment below, or by email at aruna (at) arunagee (dot) com.