I have just added one of my all-time favourite #songs to my website because I think the lyrics are perfect for everyone who has ever had #vitiligo and wondered if they are still beautiful. I dedicate it to you, and also to all those who are courageous enough to let their true colours show every day, no matter how many questions and curious glances that might provoke.
I must confess that, before I #repigmented, I was never brave enough to let my vitiligo show. I always covered up with clothes or camouflage. Maybe this is because I grew up in the generation before global communications, reality TV and social media. It was a time when virtually no one had heard of vitiligo (probably because the estimated 2% of the population who had it were just as intent as I was on keeping it private and because #Michael Jackson had not yet started to suffer from it, let alone talked about it). Younger people now seem to be much more comfortable talking about personal matters in public and, although I cannot feel that way myself, I do admire it and I am grateful for the fact that modern technology and modern attitudes allow us to communicate and support each other in ways that were unimaginable when I and my white patches were growing up together.
So, enjoy the beautiful words and #music and know that you are beautiful and you are not alone :)
The truth is there’s only one simple fact about vitiligo: it’s complicated! If it wasn’t complicated, research would have uncovered the cause - and the cure - by now. If #MichaelJackson couldn’t buy the expertise or resources to solve the mystery of this condition, and if the raised profile and increased funding it has received since his death and in the years of research preceding it, has not yet resulted in a major breakthrough, I think it’s fair to say that vitiligo is a tough nut to crack.
It’s tempting to think that vitiligo is all about the skin because that’s where the visible changes occur. But, in my opinion, that would be a big mistake. The skin, of course, is the largest organ in the human body and it is the only one (except for the eyes) that you can actually see from the outside! Think of it as the surface of a deep river. Its appearance varies according to what is going on underneath. Below the surface there is a complete #eco-system in which the health of each organism is dependent on the health of the others. The “symptoms” on the surface of a damaged river eco-system might include dead fish, other lost species and, ultimately, green and stagnant water. The symptoms on the surface of a damaged human eco-system can include dryness, roughness, sores, rashes, pallor, redness, broken veins and either hyper- (brown spots) or hypo-pigmentation (vitiligo). Whilst the symptoms are easy to identify, the exact reasons why the delicate balance of an eco-system becomes disrupted are much more difficult and complex to pin down.
I believe that the reason a cure for vitiligo is proving to be so elusive is that it is not a disease. It is a #symptom – a symptom of a disturbed internal "eco-system". Just like a cough or a rash, it can signify one (or many more) of any number of different underlying physical disorders. It is simply one of the ways in which the human body signals that all is not well under the surface. Worse still, once you have it - just like a cough or a rash - it is easily exacerbated by all sorts of influences and substances that would otherwise be relatively harmless to a human being.
I am conscious of the fact that my own #success story does not represent a universal cure. I have almost totally recovered my lost pigment (which, after spreading for 50 years, covered about 80% of my skin) and the recovery, thankfully, appears to be permanent. I am still seeing nothing but gradual improvement after 4 and a half years. However, I am certain that my sustained recovery is only due to the fact that I continue to use the nutritional protocol that triggered my repigmentation in the first place. This intervention has virtually cured the symptom (the white patches) by restoring the balance of my body’s eco-system. But, without it, my gut (literally – see this post) tells me that this balance would be lost.
Some vitiligo sufferers report similar success with my particular protocol, others have had positive results from other approaches, and many more have never found anything that works for them. This supports the view that the causes of vitiligo are varied and complex. However, it seems self-evident that anything a person can do to improve their overall health is going to reduce the severity of their symptoms, whether those symptoms be coughs, rashes or white patches. So, the best we can do – until a universal cure is forthcoming – is to feed our body with the sorts of foods that will support a balanced internal eco-system and avoid contamination (internally and externally) from substances that could compromise that balance.
I have written in detail elsewhere on my site about my nutritional treatment. So in my next few blog posts I will look at some of the external and environmental factors that may play a part in either triggering the onset of vitiligo or making an existing case worse. Knowledge is power. And knowing what can mess up your physiological eco-system can give us the power to avoid those things and give ourselves a better chance of total recovery.
1.Avoid #emotional stress as much as possible. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence out there suggesting that stress can trigger the onset of vitiligo and that it can cause existing vitiligo to spread. But don't panic if you are unable to avoid stress (that will only make it worse!) In my particular case, I stumbled upon the #nutritional treatment that caused me to repigment during the most stressful couple of years of my life. So it just goes to show that if you can address the root cause of your vitiligo (in my case a digestive problem which evidently resulted in nutritional deficiencies) you can counteract the detrimental effects of stress.
2. Avoid #physical trauma. Cuts, abrasions and friction are known to be triggers for vitiligo, so it makes sense to take extra care when taking part in sports or other activities that carry a risk of injury. It may also be a good idea to avoid wearing tight clothing or fabrics that chafe when you move.
3. Avoid contact with #chemicals that can trigger or worsen vitiligo. Research suggests that many common substances found in everyday products may be well tolerated by most people but are harmful to those who have a predisposition to vitiligo. So, my advise is to choose personal care and cleaning products that contain 100% natural ingredients wherever possible.
4. Recognise that the natural state for your body (and mind, come to that) is to be healthy and in balance. The human being is designed to heal itself whenever it is given half a chance to do so. So give your body a chance to heal itself by removing as many obstacles to this as possible. This means being consistent in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Of course we all need some guilty pleasures and treats from time to time or life wouldn’t be worth living. But it’s no good being disciplined about your diet and exercise, etc. for one month and then reverting to your old ways.
5. If you are going to try a new #treatment for your vitiligo:
If you have read my Top 10 Tips and would like some more, here are another 5 for you :)
1. My first tip is to ensure you drink PLENTY of good quality #water (bottled or filtered, if possible). 2 – 3 litres is the daily goal, as this will help to dilute and flush out #toxins and will improve your overall health into the bargain. Opinions vary as to whether or not toxins in the body are the root cause of vitiligo. But I don’t think anyone would disagree that they don’t help. They will certainly compound and exacerbate any health issues, especially those relating to the skin. If you struggle to drink enough water, simply carry around a bottle or keep a glass and jug by your desk or work station and keep sipping. By doing it this way you won’t even notice how much you are drinking. It may sound obvious, but drinking more water is one of the cheapest, simplest ways of detoxing you will ever come across.
2. As well as eliminating toxins by flushing them out with drinking water, it’s crucial to stay regular (at least one thorough #bowel movement a day.) Happily, drinking more water helps with this too because it softens stools, making them much easier to pass. Eating less meat and more vegetables and wholegrains should also ensure a regular digestive system. If you suffer from constipation in spite of doing all of the above, then my advice is to seek medical advice – preferably from a qualified natural practitioner because he or she will be more likely to take this sort of thing seriously and approach it from a holistic perspective. Most mainstream, western doctors, on the other hand, will simply prescribe drugs or other prescription laxatives that can be addictive or upset the balance of nutrients in your system. Above all, don't ignore chronic constipation. The legendary early twentieth century holistic diagnostician Edgar Cayce believed that poor elimination was a constributory cause of vitiligo.
3. Take #exercise every day, even if it is just a brisk walk with the dog or using the stairs instead of the lift or escalator. But make sure you do something more significant – like a gym session, dance class, jogging or swimming - at least 3 times a week. This will not only give you a full-body-heart-and-lung work-out but it will also improve the function of your lymphatic and digestive system. This, in turn, will improve your general health, eliminate toxins, improve the overall health of your skin and remove another obstacle to regaining your lost pigment.
4. Get a restful night’s #sleep (8 - 10 hours a night if possible). Obviously, this is good advice for general health, but it is even more so for anyone with vitiligo, given that stress has been implicated as one of the triggers. If you doubt the importance of sleep this article may surprise you.
5. Eat for health. The debate about what someone with vitiligo should and shouldn’t eat goes on. Opinions vary as to which specific foods may or may not help or harm. But the collective common-sense and experience of nutritionists, scientists and vitiligo sufferers alike all point to the value of eliminating (or greatly reducing) your intake of processed foods, sugars, alcohol and any known allergens or sensitivity-triggers, e.g. gluten, if you are intolerant). It is also highly advisable to ensure that the greatest proportion of your #diet consists of #vegetables and wholefoods.
A vitiligo blogger since 2011. My name is Caroline. I had vitiligo for nearly 50 years before finding an effective treatment. I created this blog to share my experiences with others affected by this skin condition.