Throughout my entire life, I’ve personally made friends with four people with vitiligo. Four may not seem like very many to the average person; but to me, even seeing one other person with vitiligo sends a jolt of excitement and surprise through my stomach. It’s amazing that although vitiligo impacts around 1% of the population (upwards of 75 million people), I’ve been fortunate enough to meet others that have undergone similar experiences to me. Each time I’m surprised because as humans, we so often compartmentalize ourselves and see how we’re different from one another. Meeting these individuals allowed me to see similarities, and bond with people who struggle with the same condition I do. Another benefit of meeting others with vitiligo, was that we were able to exchange coping mechanisms and different strategies for treatments. My dad and I learned about two distinct treatments that had shown improvement for these peers – eyelash solution and gluten-free dieting.
In the third grade, one of my classmates had small white patches on her feet. She had used a solution that people use to lengthen their eyelashes on her spots and seen improvement. I was initially very confused how an eyelash treatment would produce dark pigmentation on the skin; nonetheless, my dad researched the brand and surprisingly found that other people had also found improvements in their vitiligo with this cosmetic treatment. So, he mass ordered boxes of the eyelash solution from India. To apply it, I would take the eyelash brush and rub it on the spots around my eyes and lips. We started with spots on the face, as the skin is more sensitive and vulnerable to change, and gradually started applying to my hands and feet. We did not do this under supervision of a doctor. There were no negative outcomes from this experiment, nor improvements.
Our second home experiment was going gluten-free. My dad’s colleague had gone on this diet for medical reasons, and happily discovered that after going gluten-free for three months, ALL of her vitiligo went away. When I first learned about this, I was ecstatic. Immediately, I cut out all things wheat from my diet, and bought a surplus of gluten-free pastas, rice snacks, and extra vegetables to see if this diet would work for me. I was very strict about the diet for over two months, and I even lost a few pounds. Overall, I felt better and more energized too. My vitiligo remained stagnant. As I’m writing this blog, I am gluten-free again. There has been no marked improvement from the gluten-free diet in regards to my vitiligo yet, but hopefully with time, there will be. It’s become a good lifestyle, and I’ve found proper substitutes for breads and pastas and such.
Unfortunately, these little projects, such as the eyelash solution and the diet have not produced any improvement for me as they have others. This just goes to show that all bodies work differently, and what may worm for someone else may not work for you. Naturally, it can be upsetting and hard to stay motivated at times – but it’s important to keep working hard and try all these little treatments and experiments. You never know when something COULD work, and you’ll never know if you never try.