Q: Can vitiligo be cured?
A: If you’re like me, “Yes.”
If anyone wants to read Part 2, please click this link: https://tesfagiorgis.blog/2021/03/06/
The unexpected visitor
All of a sudden, small white spots started to appear on my cheeks and chin since February, 2018. They started to appear very quickly in several parts of my face to the extent that I started to grow beard on the cheeks to hide those white spots. Especially in the summer of 2018, white spots appeared on my cheeks, chin, nose, eye brows, fore head, hips, and my hands. I was frustrated by the sudden condition.
What happened to me?
I visited a clinic. They did not really understand what the condition was. However, they prescribed me an ointment. I applied it for about two weeks. But there was not a single sign of improvement. It was just expanding. Hence, I went back to the clinic and they send me to a skin specialist in the city where I was (in Luleå, Sweden). It was the skin specialist doctor who told me the skin condition was called vitiligo. I knew one woman with that condition in Eritrea. I might have seen one or two more people with that skin condition in my life.
The doctor was not that much surprised with my condition. I felt that she took it as an ordinary and simple thing. Then, she told me that there were two ways of treatment for the skin condition: creams and UV light treatments. She added that these treatments were not effective and easy treatment for the skin disorder. She advised me that I should ignore it as if it was not there, and live with it in peace. According to her, the best remedy was to accept the condition.
However, I could not accept what happened to me. ‘Accept and ignore it and live with it? This is not possible. How can I ignore it while it has invaded my face badly?’ I murmured to myself. The more I look at my face in the mirror, the more I became anxious and depressed.
I started to google the Internet to know more about the condition. I got overwhelming information. It was not easy to sift through that information and get the trusted one. The more I read, the more I got stressed. I bought materials people recommended on the Internet and started to apply some natural treatments on the spots. As I realized it later, vitiligo treatments need patience as they are long term treatments. One cannot expect change before using the treatment (whatever it is) for at least 3 or more months. As for me, I did not have that patience. I did not have the knowledge as well. I expected the results to be quick and immediate, which should not be the case.
I visited an internist (doctor) and inquired him how could that condition come to me at this age (I am above forty). He was also curious to know what the cause could be and decided to do all checkups on me. All the results were negative. He told me that I was healthy. Then he did a Vitamin D test and the result was good. Finally, in about two weeks’ time, he sent me a letter which stated that the cause could be chronic fatigue syndrome. Since he asked me my background before he wrote me the letter, he speculated that the cause could be the result of the accumulated depression of those four years of solitary confinement in prison.
When I got the doctor’s results, I was happy that I was healthy in the first place. Hence, I realised that I should have patience and convinced myself that this condition would one day go away as it came by just leaving it to God. I had to take the skin doctor’s advice: Accept and ignore it. Therefore, I decided to accept the new look of my face. I decided that I should live with that condition and believed that one day God would take it away.
Hence, I immediately collected all the different materials I bought to treat the vitiligo and threw away those which were not edible. Most of them were edible food stuff. Then, I stood in front of a mirror and said, “Dear God, I believe in You. From now on, I will not use any medicine to treat this condition because I completely surrender to You. I know You can heal me. Thank You and Amen!”
After that decision and submission, I felt internal peace. I also learned that I should be very careful with my diet. And gradually, some of the white spots on my nose, eye brows, forehead and head started to regain their natural colour. After a year and about three months from that decision, the colour of my cheeks recovered completely without any medicine. The white spots around my chin, hands and hips remained, but had shown improvements.
While I was in that hopeful state, a friend told me that her cousin had vitiligo and that he was treated and was cured form the skin condition. She also gave me his number. I called him and he told that he was cured completely. He also related his treatment experience briefly to me. The treatment took him more than a year.
In the meantime, two other people who saw the condition in me also encouraged me to take treatment. Both told me that there was a skin doctor in Kampala, Uganda, and that the doctor treated skin diseases even like mine. One of them told me that he knew someone who had vitiligo all over his body since his childhood and that the man was completely cured by the skin doctor. I thought about this for long. Since I accepted my condition and since there had been a lot of improvement, I was hesitant to visit the doctor for some time. However, I made up my mind.
My visit to the Kampala Skin Clinic
I visited the doctor at Kampala Skin Clinic on 11 March 2020. His name is Fred S.K. Kambugu (Dr), also senior consultant physician and dermatologist at Mulago Hospital. He did not talk much. He just opened a big book and showed me a photo of the skin condition. Then he prescribed me medication for 3 months. I had to go back every three months when I finished them. The treatment can take more than a year (even more) until one gets cured. Mine was a bit special in that it was regaining its colour naturally. Hence, the medication was supposed to facilitate the healing.
So far, I’ve shown rapid progress on my chins. Most part of the white spot has recovered. The rest has changed colour from white to pink, which is a good sign of recovery.
A mistake I made
When I visited the clinic for the fourth time, I did not finish the medication that I was given. I thought that I would be cured even naturally. Hence, I stopped taking and applying them on my own decision.
That bore consequences: The healing stopped. Hence, I advise anyone who started the medication NOT to quit unless otherwise your doctor tells you to do so.
* * * In the third and final part, I am going to write a summary of what to do and what not to do based on my practical experience. Have a nice time.