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Why I Said ‘Goodbye’ to Treatments as a Girl with Vitiligo

Why I Said ‘Goodbye’ to Treatments as a Girl with Vitiligo

two hands with vitiligo raised out bed and making peace sign

I remember the day like it was yesterday. I was a little girl with vitiligo, standing in the bathroom in my pink panties, covered in wet blue shampoo from head to toe. Once my mom gave me the okay, I would run around the house to help dry the shampoo on my body. I had so much fun running around all blue – I thought it was hilarious. The “blue” was Selsun Blue, a dandruff shampoo that our family doctor thought would help heal my vitiligo. Little did I know, it was just the start of years of treatments.

Treating My Skin as a Girl with Vitiligo

I started light therapy and cream treatments as a teenager. The light therapy would, in a good way, burn my white patches like a sunburn and they would turn pink. Pink meant life in my skin, which meant pigmentation would return. It was good news for my skin, but it hurt just like a regular sunburn and I felt ugly looking in the mirror and seeing my burnt body. Brown and white skin was bad enough – now I was pink too.

I didn’t like having to go to these treatments, but to my parents, it wasn’t an option. While they meant well, they would get disappointed in me when I didn’t go to light therapy sessions or would forget to apply the cream. I heard a lot of lectures about the benefits of the treatments, but they couldn’t see how hard it was for me. Going to light therapy a couple times a week was just more opportunities for me to leave the house and be stared at. More than that, the treatments were exhausting. After countless sessions, I would start to see progress and my naturally tanned skin would return. But it wasn’t a permanent solution and after even a short break, the results would fade.

Why I Said ‘Goodbye’ to Treatments

After years of being burnt, embarrassed and frustrated with treatments, I ended up missing a handful of light therapy sessions and the pigmentation on my face reverted back to vitiligo. It was as if I had wasted years of my life. I felt disheartened, cheated, robbed, hurt, sad, angry, ugly, hopeless and alone. My dermatologist noticed my frustration and tried having a heart-to-heart conversation, but I was angry. As he talked about other options, it suddenly hit me – I was done with treatments.

So much of my life was spent treating my skin because I needed to “get better.” I was raised with the idea that I needed a treatment to help me get better. But the only thing I needed to do was to love my skin the way it was. I decided that it was time to embrace my skin, take care of my mental health and love the girl looking back at me in the mirror. My joy should not be based on the number of light treatments I went to last week or how much of my pigmentation is returning. True happiness comes from loving yourself despite that.

View Comments (5)
  • It feels like I’m reading my life back to myself when I read yours. My life was full of herbs, potions, creams, light treatment even healing!!! In the end, at 18 I had the courage to tell my parents I’d had enough and it was about me now. The relief I felt was like nothing before. Thank you for sharing a difficult past of your life. xx

    • I just read your comment! Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story which seems to be OUR story. Oh man, I too also had many healing sessions / people praying over me – geez! Love that we are not alone in this journey! Sending you a big hug! Xo

  • This article brought back memories and truly inspired me! Zoila, we share the same story. At the age of 9, it was not fun at all going to the light treatments at my doctor’s office nor having to sit out in the sun after taking my oral meds and applying creams while all the other kids played. I became totally exasperated by it all. I’m grateful my mother allowed me to stop.

    Living with vitiligo is a journey for everyone who has it. It too over 40-years for me to come to terms with my Vitiligo and begin the healing process of loving myself. I’m still on my journey and like any day in life, there are good days and bad ones. However, I’m hopeful that my journey will help another little girl, teenager, young adult, woman to find and accept whatever path she’s on and then inspire someone she meets while on it. Embracing our skin also allows us to educate others as well. Thank you for sharing! Healing truly begins when we accept who we are , as we are, & love The Skin we’re in!

    Thank you for opening that dialogue! I hope you’re coming to World Vitiligo Day Conference in Houston in June. Someone needs to hear your story.

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