Coping with Vitiligo – Grandmother Case Study:
Imani and her grandmother and how they dealt with Vitiligo.
This story is based on fact, but the names of the people involved have been changed to respect their privacy. The story demonstrates a true account with real events, told as truthfully as replication and effect allows. The photo’s taken of the neck area before and after treatment are the original photo supplied by the grandmother before and after treatment.
Imani is a Swahili name and, true to African origins, means ‘faith’. Faith is what Grandma Bibi has in abundance!
When Imani was a small, 7-year-old girl, the most important person in her life was her beloved Grandma Bibi. Imani’s grandma had taught her to read, dress herself and continually ensured that she was respectful and considerate of others. At her grandma’s knee, Imani had grown into a polite, confident little girl.
In mid-January, Imani was due to attend the local village school. On the chair next to her bed sat the most beautiful item she had ever seen! Her mom and dad had presented it to her along with her brand-new school uniform! It was a small school backpack, with her new school’s logo emblazoned on the top! Imani was both excited and scared to attend school!
Imani’s first day at school was not what she had expected! Her teacher was strict, and Imani was frequently in trouble for being too lively in class. Imani struggled to conform to the classroom rules and became introverted and withdrawn. School became a stressful experience for Imani and before the end of that term, she started developing white spots on her face and neck. The spots on her face remained small, but Imani’s neck was soon a mass of bright white blemishes across her dark skin.
Grandma Bibi took her to their family doctor, who told her that there was nothing to worry about, and that the patches were quite common. Imani retreated further into her shell. She never complained about going to school, but her grandma noticed that her steps were heavy as she crossed the schoolyard and disappeared into the school building.
One day, Grandma Bibi decided to walk the long way home from her morning church meeting. Perhaps she would see Imani in the school playground and could give her the biscuit that she had not eaten but had carefully folded in a serviette. As Grandma Bibi rounded the corner, she could see that the children were in the playground. Spotting Imani sitting on a rock all on her own, she was about to call to her when she noticed the group of boys standing behind her, pointing and laughing at her exposed neck as she sat with a drooping head.
Vitiligo is a hugely stigmatised condition, especially in Africa. Facing not only a visible, disfiguring skin problem, many children also endure psychological and emotional stress from the condition and its stigma. This usually results in increased susceptibility to Vitiligo: the stress of stigmatisation can often lead to further progression of Vitiligo. Social, religious, and tribal factors play a significant role in stigmatisation in Africa. The main contributing factor to social stigma is that Vitiligo is considered by many as a curse, mystery, or spiritual attack.
Original pic taken before treatment began of the grandchild’s neck
Shocked, Grandma Bibi called Imani over to the fence. A little tear-stained face looked up at her and murmured a greeting. It took Grandma Bibi two minutes to find out that the kids in the class often sat behind her and mocked her. The boys even played a game daring each other to touch her without getting ‘the disease’. Having previously been determined to keep her nose out of Imani’s business at school, Grandma Bibi lost her cool. She stormed into the school and found the principal’s office, who called Imani’s teacher in to join them. The teacher calmly stated that she had told the children not to touch Imani in case her spots were infectious. Grandma Bibi realised that she had to get to the bottom of this issue as soon as possible.
Bullying in childhood is a major public health problem that increases the risk of poor health, social and educational outcomes in childhood and adolescence. Children who are perceived as being ‘different’ in any way are at greater risk of victimisation, with physical appearance being the most frequent trigger of childhood bullying.
With a plea to the teacher and principal to do what they could to stop the children’s bad behaviour, Grandma Bibi raced off back home. One of the wisest women in the village was Benedicta, the librarian. Barely catching her breath, Grandma Bibi launched into the terrible tale of Imani and the schoolyard bullies. Benedicta told Grandma Bibi that she had heard of the white patches growing on people’s skin. She fired up her small computer to investigate the cause of these patches. After some time, Benedicta found pictures of the condition and she had a name: Vitiligo. Soon thereafter, she told Grandma Bibi that she had found that there was a cream that she could buy to help Imani.
Grandma Bibi collected Imani from school that afternoon with a light heart. She had a plan!
Grandma Bibi discussed Imani’s Vitiligo with her parents, who were at work in the city, and they decided that Grandma Bibi should contact the company that Benedicta had found on the internet. Grandma Bibi immediately contacted a member of the laboratory technical team at Vitiligo Treatment. She was happy to be able to speak to a person who showed empathy and compassion. Above all else, she was ecstatic that there was treatment available for her beloved Imani.
Vitiligo is frequently associated with various autoimmune diseases. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common association in children. Information on the nature, possible causes, and course of the disease leads to acceptance of the disorder and higher compliance with the treatment. The choice of medical treatment depends on the type, location, and duration of lesions as well as the eagerness of the child and his/her parents to pursue therapy. Importantly, treatment must start early, and last until the Vitiligo patches are repigmented. Thereafter, a maintenance schedule should ensure that the Vitiligo is kept at bay.
In October, Imani started treatment using the Vitilox® Pigmentation Cream and Vitilox® B12, Folic Acid and D3 Vitamin tablets. This combined approach ensures the ideal treatment program. The cream has been formulated to re-pigment the Vitiligo affected areas of the skin, and the vitamins slow down and stop the spread of Vitiligo.
Imani is a highly-strung child, wanting to please her grandma and parents. Her increasing stress at school could possibly have been a trigger for her developing Vitiligo.
In individuals genetically predisposed to the disease, various triggers contribute to the initiation of Vitiligo. Precipitating factors can stress the skin, leading to T-cell activation and recruitment. Both emotional and physical stress can trigger the white patches that mark the skin disease Vitiligo. It is likely that pigment-producing cells called melanocytes are more susceptible to damaging chemicals produced during emotional stress. People with Vitiligo say that emotional stress causes more patches to develop.
As Imani’s condition improved, Grandma Bibi and Benedicta approached Imani’s school principal, suggesting he address all the teachers on the Vitiligo condition. Educating the staff and the pupils were a great way of ensuring that children with Vitiligo be accepted as ‘normal’. This idea was implemented at the school, and even at more informal meetings in the village.
This original pic was taken after treatment on the grandchild’s neck
Importantly, Grandma Bibi documented and photographed Imani’s recovery progress. With darker skin tones, it is easier to see the results, but it is still important to show a ‘before’ and ‘after’ treatment development. Grandma Bibi tried not to focus on the Vitiligo and did not put pressure on Imani to cover it up. Grandma Bibi showed Imani that her love and acceptance were and still are unconditional. She reminded Imani of all the things at which she excels – and how they have nothing to do with skin colour.
Imani is now comfortable explaining what Vitiligo is and isn’t to other children. Once the mystery was taken away, Imani’s friends and school pupils stopped staring and asking questions
Imani’s Vitiligo was well under control in December of that year, having followed the treatment schedule recommended by the Vitiligo Treatment team. Imani has achieved celebrity status at her school, and her schoolwork improved impressively. Grandma Bibi is a promoter for our Vitilox® treatment options and has found a lot more children who have Vitiligo and had tried to hide it.
Although children of all races are affected equally, spots tend to be more visible on those with darker skin. Sometimes children with Vitiligo have other symptoms, such as premature greying of the hair or a loss of pigment on the lips, since pigment cells are found in these places, too. Vitiligo is acknowledged as an autoimmune disorder (in which the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy melanocytes). What is known is that the risk of developing Vitiligo increases in children with a family or personal history of thyroid disease, diabetes, and certain conditions like alopecia (an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss). Vitiligo is never contagious. Children cannot catch Vitiligo from someone else.
Grandma Bibi has faith in the Vitilox® treatment options just as Imani’s Swahili name implies.
As always, please don’t hesitate to contact us if you require any further information pertaining to this Case Study – Coping with Vitiligo – Grandmother – or require any additional detailed information on our products.
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Published by Vitiligo Treatment