Prarthana Jagan and Shantanu Gosavi
Prarthana Jagan and Shantanu Gosavi

World Vitiligo Day 2021: Living with two skin tones

Bursting myths and sharing their experience, Prarthana Jagan and Shantanu Gosavi talk about living with vitiligo...
By Digvijay
PUBLISHED ON JUN 25, 2021 01:17 PM IST

There are many myths and assumptions that prevail about vitiligo in our society today. People with this discolouring skin condition often face discrimination.Caused by a genetic predisposition, if your family member has Vitiligo, there are chances that you might get it too, explains cosmetic dermatologist Chytra Anand. She says, “There are a lot of causes how vitiligo occurs, main reason being a genetic disposition with a 20 percent chance. The lack of melanin that gives colour to our skin, a few stress related issues and facing with skin traumas can trigger vitiligo.”

Although, the skin condition is not life threatening or contagious, it causes distress to people dealing with it. Anand says, “More than anything, vitiligo is a social taboo disease, because people think that it can spread with being in touch with people who have it, but that’s a myth. It doesn’t spread it’s a genetic condition not an infection.”She adds, “People might be born with it, but you can’t identify the patches on a baby, it develops later on.”

Freelance artist and a dance student Shantanu Gosavi, who is dealing with vitiligo since childhood. “I have a blurred memory of my initial patches. It first appeared when I was about 8 or 9 years old after a wound on my knee healed. My parents were not too worried as they said, ‘It’s just a patch, don’t worry about it!’ My mother also has vitiligo so I was always aware of the condition.”

Living with a visible skin condition calls for an acceptance, which might not come easy. Dealing with vitiligo is a journey and everyone has to carve their own path, in order to feel comfortable in their own skin. For Gosavi, there was never a point in his life where he had to “accept” himself. He was already accepting of himself, he says.

However, for model and content strategist Prarthana Jagan, accepting herself with vitiligo was a long journey of 8 years. “I learnt that I have vitiligo when I was 11 years old. At that age you feel that you will just wake up the next day and all your problems will be gone. But, vitiligo didn’t. There’s not a medicine for everything and vitiligo is one of them. Growing up with it, I feel has instilled a lot of my self-esteem issues. Kids were mean in school and that pushed me in a corner.”

Living with a patchy skin, Jagan always used to cover it with make-up in order to hide it, until one day when her friends asked for a picture and she spent 30 minutes doing her make-up just for one picture, “That’s how deep engraved this taboo is in our brains. I was also faced with a medical emergency wherein I had to be in surgery and you can’t keep your make-up on in surgery and not even after it. So, living without make-up for a week and a half was liberating. I decided to continue living without make-up, or do make-up that doesn’t hide my skin discoloration, because I genuinely love make-up.”

Watching people around her in India having misconceptions about Vitiligo, she started her own YouTube channel to talk about the same. “I wanted to start a positive conversation about it. Not a lot of people were talking about it. I used to get a lot of questions about how I have accepted myself and how am I so confident, but, what they don’t know is the journey. It’s a journey to accept yourself, I have been through the bullying and being alienated, but you have to rise up to the challenge,” says Jagan

Self belief is the first step according to Jagan. “People often think that they will get my Vitiligo if they will touch me. It’s important to educate yourself, my parents always made me aware about such people. They asked me to be more resilient, instead of listening to them.”

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