The 411 on Vitiligo

How does this skin condition affect Blacks?

Chantelle Brown-Young - Excelling in an industry that puts weight on outward appearance, these fashion models are changing perceptions and proving that there’s no one template for beauty. By Britt Middleton  Handpicked by Tyra Banks to appear on cycle 21 of America’s Next Top Model, the Toronto native has been living with vitiligo, a skin disorder that produces white patches on the skin, since she was 4 years old. Now 20, she’s proven to be a fighter, telling PEOPLE magazine, "Growing up, it was a 'fake it 'til you make it' type of thing. I just decided, ‘You know what? I'm going to keep telling myself I'm beautiful until I feel beautiful.' And it happened."   (Photo: Chantelle Brown-Young via Instagram)

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Understanding Vitiligo - Recently, it was announced that Chantelle Brown-Young, one of the Black female contestants in this summer’s edition of America’s Next Top Model, has vitiligo. But what exactly is this skin condition? Read more about what vitiligo is and how it affects African-Americans.— Kellee Terrell

(Photo: Chantelle Brown-Young via Instagram)


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What Is It? - Vitiligo is a disease where the pigment in your skin is destroyed and leaves behind  patches of white skin on your body. These white patches can also appear in the tissues inside the nose and mouth, the inner layer of someone’s eyes and turn one’s hair white. It’s very rare for the pigment to come back once it’s been destroyed.(Photo: GettyImages) 

Hyperplasia - This is when the cells lining the ducts or lobules in the breasts grow too fast. It doesn’t typically cause a lump, but it can be seen on a mammogram and diagnosed via biopsy.  Link to cancer risk: Mild hyperplasia doesn’t impact cancer risk. But moderate hyperplasia comes with a 1.5 to 2 times increase of risk, and atypical hyperplasia multiplies risk by 3.5 to 5 times.  (Photo: Thomas Barwick/Getty Images)

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What Causes Vitiligo? - Doctors are not sure, but some believe that vitiligo may be a result from an autoimmune disease that would cause the body to attack its own pigment. Other theories include it being a genetic disorder or that it’s triggered by stress or the environment. (Photo: Thomas Barwick/Getty Images)


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How Common Is It? - Vitiligo is pretty rare, affecting almost 2 percent of the U.S population, and it doesn’t discriminate — it affects people of all races and genders equally. Vitiligo only appears to affect people of color more because the signs are more obvious among darker skin. (Photo: GettyImages)


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When Does It Show Up? - This disease differs in different people and can stay dormant for years. But 95 percent of people will show signs before they turn 40, with 50 percent showing signs before they turn 20, says Web MD. (Photo: LEO RAMIREZ/AFP/Getty Images)


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How Does It Appear? - Vitiligo occurs in three different ways. Focal pattern is when the depigmentation isn’t wide spread or happens in a few areas in the body. Segmental pattern is when the patches occur on one side of the body. And generalized, which is the most common, happens equally on both sides of the body. (Photo: John MD/GettyImages)


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It May Be in the Genes - Having a family history of vitiligo can increase your chances of having the disease. Past studies have shown that kids with parents who have the disease have a 30 percent higher chance of developing the disease as well.  (Photo: John MD/GettyImages)

Photo By Photo: John MD/GettyImages

Other Risk Factors - Vitiligo is also associated with people who have other autoimmune disorders, such as overactive thyroids, patches of baldness (alopecia) and premature hair graying. (Photo: JGI/Jamie Grill/Blend Images)

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Other Risk Factors - Vitiligo is also associated with people who have other autoimmune disorders, such as overactive thyroids, patches of baldness (alopecia) and premature hair graying. (Photo: JGI/Jamie Grill/Blend Images)

Break Out the Moisturizer - In order to protect the skin from fall’s colder air, you’ll want to apply a rich facial moisturizer. Not only does it provide hydration, but it helps reduce water loss and a creates barrier to safeguard your skin from the elements.  (Photo: Lena Clara/Getty Images)

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Treatment Options - There is no cure or treatment to prevent vitilgo. What doctors can do is help to improve the areas that have been affected with make up, creams, skin grafting and a method called re-pigmentation. Treatments may take a long time and there is a chance that they may not work, the NIH points out. (Photo: Getty Images) 

They Isolate Themselves From Loved Ones - People who are suicidal often push loved ones away and prefer to be alone. If you see them pulling away, not calling you back, spending time alone and even falling back from being an active parent, this could be a major sign of depression and suicidal tendencies.  (Photo: laflor/Getty Images)

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Coping With the Stigma - Watching your appearance change over time can be frustrating and depressing, which is why seeking counseling and support groups are extremely helpful in processing one’s disease. Whether you choose to use make up to cover up your spots is completely up to you. (Photo: laflor/Getty Images)

Photo By Photo: laflor/Getty Images

Michael Jackson - His expensive lifestyle and endless legal bills meant the bank was always one late payment away from changing the locks on Neverland Ranch. But Jackson always managed to find a way to keep his home, which cost an estimated $10 million a year to maintain, out of foreclosure — even if it meant auctioning off the zoo and the amusement park rides.(Photo: Mark Mainz/Getty Images)

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No One Is Exempt - Black celebrities are not exempt from having this skin disorder, either. Celebs from the late superstar Michael Jackson to reality star and singer Tamar Braxton to basketball player Rasheed Wallace have admitted to suffering from vitiligo. (Photo: Mark Mainz/Getty Images)