I’m a hairdresser from London. I was 43 years old when I first noticed a white spot on one of my fingers. I didn’t think much of it and just assumed it was some sort of fungus. A client doctor recommended a cream and I thought, after a few days or weeks that would be it. Move forward to my summer holidays in Turkey and as I got tanned it was clear that it wasn’t just a fungus. Within a few months all my fingers had lost their pigmentation except for a few spots of my original olive skin, here and there. I wasn’t panicking at that stage and thank God it wasn’t on my face. Eventually my doctor diagnosed the vitiligo but offered little information, however he referred me to a dermatologist which wasn’t much more help. I have vitiligo and there is no cure available at the present.
Fine! Let’s get on with it. Except that now it is spreading like wild fire at a very alarming rate. Another few months have gone by and both my hands are completely white, my legs, arms, groin and more disturbingly my genitals are patchy. I noticed that I have now have a very neat thick line of discolored skin running across my forehead under my hairline. It got rapidly worse. The patch on the forehead got bigger, new ones appeared around my eyes as well as my entire nose and neck. I don’t remember how I got to seek help from a charity in London that deals with people with different levels of disfigurement. This is when I realized that I was pretty lucky compared to other people they are helping. I was taught by a makeup artist how to apply a camouflage cream, which is basically a cosmetic. Although it was at first hard to digest that I would have to wear makeup every day, once I mastered the application it was a tremendous boost for my moral. And with the help of home tanning, I was able to cover the visible parts of my body, especially in the summer.
I’m now in my 50’s and although vitiligo isn’t a part of my life as such, unlike some other members of my Vitiligan family I do not accept it. I’m always in a quest for a cure. I guess perhaps it is because it happened to me at a later stage in my life that it is harder for me to accept it. I’ve been wearing my lovely olive skin for 43 years, which is all I ever knew. This was me. Tall, dark and (some say) handsome! My Mediterranean heritage and identity was slowly disappearing, taken away from me. I always thought that it never bothered me when it came to new relationships. Clearly it does, as I have been single for 8 years. I got lazy with dating. Explaining my condition, the makeup on the pillow, fake tan on the sheets left behind like Jesus Turin shroud, because you are too scared to wash everything off and being rejected. So it was meaningless encounters after meaningless encounters because it's easier that way and you don’t have to see them ever again.
However it’s not all doom and gloom. I have been vegetarian for many years, but since January 1, 2016 I have decided to go vegan. My diet is heavily plant based. The vitiligo has since stopped spreading. Coincidence? Maybe, but I’d like to think that veganism, meditation, a positive outlook on life and healthy living are a major factor. Still, I’m open to new “cures” and always read and keep an eye out on new research. As I’m writing this, I’m embarking on new treatments. In the meantime I’m still applying camouflage on my face and fake tan on my body. It’s part of my routine like say brushing my teeth. I’m getting pretty good and quick at it. It makes me feel “normal”. It’s my personal choice, I’m genuinely happy and I can get on with everyday life.