My journey with vitiligo: despair, acceptance and becoming a trustee

I have had vitiligo for the last 15 years. After suffering from eczema and psoriasis as a child and teenager, vitiligo first appeared as a small patch near my left eye. This then steadily progressed over the next few years until roughly 95% of my skin had lost its pigment. My progression to almost complete pigment loss was very difficult as I had lots of patches all over my body for a 3-year period which was highly noticeable. I was 19 years old and at university when it started, so as a self-conscious teenager I found this exceptionally difficult to cope with.

After diagnosis, I was provided with a corticosteroid cream (Dermovate) by my GP. This had no impact at all so after a few weeks I stopped using it to avoid any unwanted side effects. It was then that I started to feel quite desperate. My family has a history of skin conditions on my mother’s side, but never vitiligo before. My GP then referred me to the dermatology department at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London where photographs of my entire body were taken as a reference point (sounds a bit strange now) and it was suggested that I try UVB light therapy. I made a personal decision that it wasn’t for me however I do appreciate that for many others in our community this treatment has worked and stimulated re-pigmentation to a greater or lesser degree. After discussing with my family, considering the vast scale of treatment required against the potential risks I decided not to pursue it. I did try camouflage make-up on my hands and face which was my only option, given the self-tanning market didn’t have the scale or quality of products, compared to today. The products I did try left my skin more orange than tanned so I gave up.

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