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3 Things to Know about Vitiligo

1. Vitiligo is a skin disorder which varies in different people.

Vitiligo is a skin disease leading to patches and spots of white skin due to lack of melanin. Melanocytes - the cells producing the pigment melanin that gives skin its colour - is destroyed by the immune system, leading to white patches forming.

2. Vitiligo is quite common

According to the National Vitiligo Foundation, vitiligo affects around 70 million people in the world. In other words, one in one hundred people have vitiligo.

3. There is no cure

There is no cure for Vitiligo, but there are cosmetic treatments to help restore the color of the skin although no treatment can be 100% effective.

Impact on Self-image

A publication in the International Journal of Women Health Nursing surveyed 100 participants with a diagnosis of vitiligo, and found that 42% of participants had body image disturbance and quality of life was moderately impaired in 34% of patients and severely impaired in 33% of patients.

Winnie Harlow

" My skin doesn’t define me."

" Vitiligo is just another difference, like freckles, big hair, tiny ears. Everyone has differences."

Winnie Harlow is a Canadian fashion model with vitiligo. She was diagnosed at the age of four and endured lots of bullying as she grew up; she was called a ‘cow’, ‘zebra’ and other slurs because of her skin condition, and this verbal harassment led to her changing schools multiple times, dropping out of high school, and having suicidal thoughts.

Having overcome this challenge of self-image mostly thanks to the confidence her grandmother instilled in her, she now strives to inspire other people with vitiligo to live unapologetically and love themselves.

She is a public advocate for vitiligo: When she was just 16 years old, Harlow posted a video titled "Vitiligo: A Skin Condition, not a Life Changer" where she talked about and answered questions on vitiligo. Harlow also spoke in a TEDx presentation in 2014 about her experience with vitiligo.


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