I Have Vitiligo. Here’s What It’s Like to Live With This Rare Skin Condition

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Experts aren’t sure what triggers the condition (which affects about 1% of the population), but some believe it may be an autoimmune disease. With autoimmune diseases, the immune system mistakenly attacks a healthy part of your body—in this case, the melanocytes. Others theorize vitiligo may be caused by genetics, while some say emotional stress or a sunburn can trigger it.

In my case, I wouldn’t be surprised if emotional strain were the trigger, since at that time I was more stressed than I’d ever been in my life. I was in the midst of my high school graduation, my final days with a dance studio I had considered a second home for nearly 10 years, and a heart-wrenching breakup from my first serious boyfriend. Everything in my life was changing, and now my body was, too.

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