Vitiligo is a specific idiopathic (unknown cause) skin and hair depigmentation. It may be an auto-immune disease where the immune system destroys the natural pigmentation.
White spots appear, remain for life. Associated premature graying.
Age of Onset – infancy to old age, peaking at 10 – 30 years old.
Race – all affected.
Gender – possible female predominance.
Cause – unknown, 30% familial tendency.
Precipitating Factors – trauma i.e. scars, pressure sites. Can be seen after severe emotional trauma, grief, etc.
Treatment – very difficult. Ultraviolet treatment, creams, bleaches, support may help the condition.
No known cure.
Derek R Odendaal
“Connecting the Dots”
My vitiligo appeared on the 28th of December 1998 after an extremely traumatic experience and subsequent year.
Later, we were in Cape Town on holiday when I noticed a white mark on my right hand between my fore and middle finger knuckles. It was originally the size of a 1-cent piece.
In my wildest imagination, I could not have predicted how effectively it managed to spread.
At first, I researched everything about it. I tried vast doses of cortisone, spread on endless creams and tried relaxation exercises. They all have very limited effect. I have tried diets, and have spent hours raging against my vitiligo!
Gradually, I have accepted it. It has become a friend and reminds me that life’s lessons aren’t always easy but in retrospect they are lessons well worth learning.
I would not trade any of them.
Port Elizabeth, October 2006