Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Little Eye Go

I've always had weird skin pigment issues, I guess.

When I was a little girl, maybe 8 years old, my mom's friend french-braided my hair and teased me about a gray streak that laced through the braid. It originated at a small whitish spot hidden on my scalp where the hair grew out white.

That gray rarely showed - maybe just on the odd occasion that I exposed the underside of my hair while brushing it. I was always strangely proud of it, as though it was a pretty silver little secret hidden in my hair.

Around age 13 or so, a crescent shaped area around the very large and noticeable birthmark on my leg seemed to be blanched - as though the dark brown of my birthmark was sucking pigment from the surrounding tissue.

My arm freckles and a small freckle on my chest developed small white auras. Weird, but much of this whiteness seemed to subside or fade in my adult years, so I didn't think much on it.

Until I had Dibbs.

tried to cover my belly button.
sorry about the post-preg belly skin.
I noticed two quarter-sized areas of vanishing color in the weeks after my second baby was born. One right along my linea negra (the dark belly line of pregnancy). See photo.

And the other...um...I would post a photo, but...okay, well, basically, part of the areola on one breast is...disappearing. In other words, it looks like Ms. Pac Man.

That was enough to prompt me to research it (read: use Google as medical advice).

I learned the following:

1) I have vitiligo.
2) I read that it's actually pronounced as though it rhymes with "little eye go."
3) It's an autoimmune disease (just like type 1 diabetes).
4) It's harmless, almost completely untreatable, and potentially awkward-looking if severe.
5) It's rumored to be why the King of Pop started wearing his silver glove.
6) It's fairly common in people with diabetes.

Well, crap, I thought...at least I don't have it in visible areas. Like my face.

Never say "at least."

I was in a hurry on Saturday. I'll do my makeup in the car, I thought. I pull up to the venue where I'm scheduled to sing, flip the sunglass mirror down, and there it was.
Face Off. Ha. Get it?
Around both eyes. How had I not noticed this before? Like a raccoon. The areas around my eyebrows, temples, under my eyes. Big white circles. Hardly noticeable to the naked eye.

Ha. Naked eye.

That's EXACTLY what it looks like.
This pic was from several weeks ago and I still wasn't noticing it.
My cheeks have normal, pink/yellow skin texture, color variation, and then it abruptly stops. Suddenly it's the same perfect whiteness, eerie smoothness, textureless canvas. As though my eyebrows sucked the color out of my skin.

What does it mean? Nothing.

Should I worry? No.

But do I want to tell others with autoimmune diseases that this can be part of the package deal? Yes.

It's just a little eye go. That's all. Something else that makes me wonder about autoimmunity. Why our bodies react in ways they shouldn't. What causes all of it.

Answers we'll probably never have.

In the meantime, I will watch my skin for new patches. Ask my dermatologist at my annual check-ups if there's anything specific he recommends. Be more careful about sun exposure. And know that, despite all of that, like my other autoimmune condition, it is going to do what it is going to do.


  1. Sweetstuff has a small (here's an ironic part - althoughI likely using that word wrong - thanks Alanis) patch in the shape of ...wait for it....a pancreas that becomes visible in the summer. My kids are mutts - half Lebanese and half - well what ever I am. Thus they all have this amazing skin tone - The patch isn't real visible in the winter months but as my dear daughter tans in the spring and summer it becomes more visible. She is very self-conscious of it as it is right in the middle of her right cheek. She hasn't seen a dermatologist for it. We just noticed it last summer and since it became nearly invisible during the school year we didn't think of it again. Thus - I can't be 100 percent certain it is little eye go - It sure sounds like what you are describing. I respect your feelings towards it and can't wait to share your post with sweetstuff when she is home from camp. Cheers.

  2. I got it about a year before my dx with type 1. It "moves" around somewhat, the newer spots being somewhat more clearly delineated than the older ones. I have it all over my face, hands and arms. It was a real tough thing for me when I was a teenager, but now I hardly ever think about it.

  3. The autoimmunity connections continue to boggle my mind!

    You don't seem like the type to worry about this at all - but I don't think any of the rest of us saw anything at FFL either. It is probably more noticeable to you than to any of the rest of us.

  4. Wow! Even with you pointing it out in the pictures, I didn't notice it at first. I didn't know anything about the autoimmune system five and half years ago. So much has happened since then. That's one fickle system!

    1. My mom has had vitiligo (sp) for several years. Other than the stares and whispers in public, she hasnt had any problems as far as I know. Just a few months ago I saw a few spots on myself. I guess I will be making a dr. appt. Ty for all the good information on here though!!!!