A Reason, But Not An Excuse

24 Feb

I’ll tell you a little interesting factoid about me: I have vitiligo.

Not leprosy! Vitiligo!

That’s it in the red circles. That green box is my sophisticated editing. At first I was going to post a photo from the web showing what vitiligo looks like, but then I thought I should just show you mine, warts and all. Sorry for the lousy photo, but you get the idea. Also, it’s actually a bit liberating to post this because I really hate my vitiligo and it makes me super self-conscious, so this is like… like my vitiligo debut.

What IS vitiligo? Well, you can click the link I helpfully posted above, or I can give you a very brief summary: it’s a non-contagious auto-immune disease in which your body inexplicably (seriously, no one knows why) decides that its own melanin is bad and kills it. Melanin (skin pigment) is what causes your skin to be any color other than sheet white. Obviously, people of different heritages produce different amounts of melanin. Given that, without a tan, I am practically sheet white anyhow, my vitiligo is not as noticeable as it was on, say, Michael Jackson. When I am tan, however, I find it EXTREMELY noticeable.

I first noticed it at my hairline about four years ago. Since then, it has migrated to my eyebrows (I actually have a few white eyebrow hairs because of the pigment loss), around my mouth, my hands, and as you can see above, my armpits and one large spot on my belly. There’s no cure for vitiligo. There are treatments, but they are largely ineffective, or effective on only certain areas, or effective only for a short time. There’s also no indication of what spurs the immune system to do this. Genetics are thought to play a role, but no one else in my family has this or any other auto-immune disease. My brother was allergic to his own histamines as a child, and my sister has had thyroid problems on and off, and those two things COULD have similar roots. Otherwise, it’s a total mystery.

Anyhow, I bring this up because it has made me even more obsessive about skin care, products, what I use on my skin, and what I put onto and into my body. I was never exactly “normal” when it came to my product obsession, but this has really stirred an entirely new fascination in me. I am hyper aware of how things affect my skin and skin tone, how my skin feels and looks, and what ingredients could be toxic or potentially dangerous.

The thing I hate most about my vitiligo is not how it looks, or even how it makes me feel about myself. It’s the fact that it stole my freckles. In the summer, my face used to be covered with freckles – I used to joke that I even had a freckle moustache. No more. My freckles have been wiped out by this stupid, barely understood skin condition.

So there you have it. My next post is going to be on skin care, and I thought this was an important preface to that.

5 Responses to “A Reason, But Not An Excuse”

  1. Ish February 25, 2012 at 10:25 am #

    Hey there-I have Vitiligo too and quite often I feel down about it-but once in a while I get some perspective and think about how much more I have going on in my life other than my skin…I hope there’s a cure in my lifetime but in the meanwhile-I think its important to value all the wonderful things in our lives and know that although we might find it distressing-we don’t look at other people with physical differences as any lesser of a being.In truth,I’d rather have my patchy skin than a patchy personality!Thanks for sharing your picture.x

    • katej78 February 25, 2012 at 10:38 am #

      What a great thought – thanks for posting! It definitely gives you a different perspective on “beauty” and physical appearance/vanity. My friend Jen says she likes my vitiligo (?!?) because she thinks it’s unique and cute! A good reminder that we are always our own harshest critics. Thanks again for the post and for reading! 🙂

  2. Caitlin Pass February 28, 2012 at 11:47 am #

    Thanks for the post and also the comments. I was a bit down yesterday after my dermatologist gave me some discouraging news about the state of my rosacea. Most people say they don’t even notice it on me, but of course it’s the first thing I notice when I look in the mirror! It’s important for me to put it in perspective and remember precisely what is commented above.

    • katej78 February 28, 2012 at 3:25 pm #

      I guess we were just too beautiful and the gods got jealous. ❤


  1. Chantecaille Future Skin « Lipgloss & Life - May 2, 2012

    […] skin tone is becoming more uneven, I have more wrinkles, and when you combine these things with my vitiligo, it seems like it’s time to start using a makeup that gives me some decent […]

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