By Josh Saunders
A photographer cruelly called ‘leopard’ for the white patches all over her body, claims to have cured 80% of her Vitiligo.
Emma Thomson, 28, from Romford, Essex, battled bullying after her first pigment-free patches appeared during her early teens.
Dermatologists told her there was ‘no cure’ for the condition, which affects for 1% of the world’s population, as the colour seeped away from her face, neck and back.
She was so embarrassed that she used both specialist camouflage cream and smothered herself in fake tan twice a week so that the white spots couldn’t be seen beneath her ‘orange skin’.
After developing freckles in one of her Vitiligo spots, she started to believe she could regain pigment by being in the sun and after changing her diet two years ago noticed colour continuing to come back.
She’s found success since cutting out all sugar, wheat and dairy as well as doing positive thinking exercises and affirmations to reduce her stress levels.
Now she claims up to 80% of her Vitiligo affected skin has returned to her natural skin tone – which she now celebrates in a photo-series of self-portraits.
Emma said: “I came back from a holiday in Egypt, I was told to stay out of the sun because due to my condition I would be at a greater risk of skin cancer.
“But I noticed brown freckles develop in my Vitiligo spots and that was the first time I thought that I must be able to regain pigment.
“The more I went into the sun, the more my skin would start to tan apart from my neck, it started to come back every year and consistently got better, never getting worse again.
“When I noticed it was coming back so much I thought there must be a cure out there, despite being told there wasn’t one.
“A couple of years ago, I found online success stories and medical experiments online, where people with Vitiligo regain skin colour by changing their diets and reducing their stress levels.
“I cut all sugar and most wheats, so I don’t eat bread, pizza, fizzy drinks and alcohol, as well as no dairy and nothing processed.
“I would say about 80% of my pigment has returned, it’s just my neck left that still has more Vitiligo patches but apart from that no one notices.
“My whole face has regained pigment and my legs apart from one tiny spot and my neck is taking longer but om the other areas there are only tiny little white areas.
“These conditions are exacerbated by stress, so I have been working on reducing that too, trying to think positively and using affirmations.
“From research I found that Vitiligo is normally a symptom of an underlying health problem, I found out what was wrong with me and focussed on healing only for it to work on my Vitiligo too.”
Emma’s first Vitiligo spot appeared on her spine at 13-years-old in a specific a halo nevus formation – where a white ring appears around a mole.
She said: “I had one very small white spot on my spine, it gradually appeared in other places like my face, all over my arms and legs, as well as my neck which are the most affected areas.
“I was told there was nothing they could do apart from apply steroid creams, which didn’t do anything or light treatment which could increase my risk of skin cancer.
“I was upset because I thought it would carry on spreading and nothing could get rid of it, but then my mum found camouflage make-up through the British Red Cross.”
Emma was devastated knowing that there was no cure and after feeling unable to fully cover her skin with the specialist cream she resorted to using fake-tan.
Her self-image issues were worsened by regular bullying at school, being dumped because of the skin condition and rejected by a potential date.
Emma said: “The boys at school would say I had leprosy, call me a leopard or just tell me I was ugly, I’ve blocked out a lot of it, but know I was very embarrassed.
“In my teenage years, because it had spread so much I used fake tan and general foundation, which worked out better off as no one could tell unless I took my make-up off.
“I would apply the fake tan twice a week all over my body and looked really orange.
“I even had a boyfriend split up with me because of Vitiligo and another didn’t want to go on a date with me because of it.
“It certainly made me more self-conscious, but as I got older I realised people like that weren’t worth my time.”
Emma changed her diet on advice from her herbalist after being diagnosed with adrenal failure, caused by pituitary gland problems, which also resulted in polycystic ovaries syndrome.
It went onto aid the health problem and additionally, she believes is one of the main causes for her skin pigmentation returning.
Now she’s trying to raise awareness of her personal cure, which she believes could help others too.
Emma said: “It was hard to hear there was no cure when I was young, I was quite depressed about it in school, but once I realised some areas were developing pigment again I became more positive.
“I’m hopeful that this could help others and have spoken to a lot of people who have worked on changing their diet and reducing their stress levels too.”
Breakfast: Porridge with Manuka honey
Snacks: Almonds and walnuts; or, wrapped vegetable aubergines/avocados/veg; or hummus/lentil, kale or beetroot crisps.
Lunch: Vegetable/green soups or jacket potato with a green superfood salad
Dinner: Vegetables, chicken and potatoes
Drinks: Green tea, Peppermint tea, water and vegetables juices.
Juice ingredients: Beetroot, celery, spinach, kale, carrots, ginger, cucumber, green apples, black berries.
Additional: herbal tincture and supplements