A few years ago, we noticed a spot on my daughter’s foot. It had lost it’s pigment except for a few skin-colored dots inside of the spot. It resembled a smiley face. We never really thought much of it, we just thought it was some sort of birthmark.

A few months back, we were at the doctor for an exam and I asked him about it because we had found one on her knuckles on her hand. He made us an appointment with a dermatologist whom we saw today. They ran a Wood’s lamp (black light) over her skin which revealed spots on her knees and wrist as well. Now looking at it, it is visible to the naked eye. She hadn’t noticed these spots either.

Diagnosis: Vitiligo.

Vitiligo (vit-ih-LI-go) is a condition in which your skin loses melanin, the pigment that determines the color of your skin, hair and eyes. Vitiligo occurs when the cells that produce melanin die or no longer form melanin causing slowly enlarging white patches of irregular shapes to appear on your skin.

There is no cure. It is not really known what causes it. It may be an autoimmune-type disorder, but not a lot is known about it. For now we are going to try a Protopic ointment with plentiful sun exposure to try and get the pigment to come back and recheck with the dermatologist in three months.

If anyone has experience with this disease or knows anyone who does, I would love to hear from you, because frankly, as a mother, this freaks me the F@#! out.

  • Anonymous

    Yikes Lis! I am so sorry to hear this. I really hope that the treatment works for her.


  • Alice Jane

    That’s crazy! My mom and my sister have it too. You don’t meet very many people who have it. My sister has it pretty bad. It is on her arms, up her neck and on her face. You would never notice though. She buys some really good bronzer (I think it is Lancome or something) and covers it right up. My mom is less severe. She has it on her legs, hands, and arms. If you didn’t know what she had though, you would think it was some yucky disease. You have to be really careful in the sun because you skin has no pigment where it is at. My mom and sister always wear long sleaves even when it is hot. Their skin is so sensitive. Let me know if you have any questions.

  • Anonymous

    Melissa- My daughter Alyssa has something on her cheek.. she was born with it. The doctor told us the real name for it but said they call it a ‘cafe olay’. I will investigate more and see if it is anything similiar to what you are talking about. Nora

  • Two blessings from above

    I would freak out too. When it comes to your kids and somthing turning up like this it is always scary. I hope the medication works for her. Will it continue to be visible to the naked eye? I will have to clik on the link you posted and read about it.
    I hope in 3 months it has gotten better from the treatment. Sounds like Alice Jane is a good source of help.
    Have a good weekend.

  • The Epps Family

    My 29 year old brother was diagnosed with it 2 years ago. It started as a spot on his chin which has spread throughout his beard area. He’s fair, so it’s not terribly noticible– except for when his 5 0clock shadow appears. The hair above the spot is white! Recently, he grew out his beard and began dying it, and it looks great. He has spots on the fingers of one hand and on his shoulder. You’re right– there is no cure, but it’s manageable. Staying out of the sun is her first protection (I know– no fun) because the normal skin will tan, and the rest will appear lighter. Many cases progress very slowly or don’t appear to progress at all. No one else in our family has this, but my brother and his wife have baby number 1 due in November. They will keep an eye on him. My 2nd grade teacher who is African American had it, and in this case it was totally obvious. Sunscreen every day for your daughter, and remind her that it will be OK. Hang in there too, mom. It will be OK. My thoughts and prayers are with you.


    I had something like that when I was young. They would put me under the black lights. I have a couple of places on my knee and ankle that don’t tan but you really don’t notice it. I thought it was a birth mark too. I also have one 1white eyelash..

  • The Epps Family

    Are you doing OK? You have been very quiet since this post……Hang in there.