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Something Personal I Have to Face

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The weather in South Carolina has been really nice that past week and pollen season is over. These two factors made it the perfect time to start staining the boat dock that extends out from the lakeside gazebo in my yard.

Lake Dock stretching out over the lake before staining

Last year Ed ripped up and replaced the damaged wood boards. Staining the boards is my job and much easier than Ed’s repair work.

Diane with hat and sunglasses Staining the dock on Lake Murray

Using a paint roller stick and a 5″ wide paint brush made the process pretty easy. I felt like I was swabbing the deck instead of staining. I love being outdoors, so I didn’t mind taking this project on.

What made the job harder for me though was the need to keep my face covered from the sun. I need to completely cover it by wearing a wide brim hat that can get in the way, especially when it is windy outside.

Closeup photo of Blogger In My Own Style wearing a large brim black hat to protect her Vitiligo from the sun.

Today, I am sharing something personal with you that I have had to come to terms with over the past two years.

blogger In My Own Style standing and smiling at camera on lakeside dock without hat on.
Me, two weeks ago sans sun hat and with white opaque sunblock rubbed in all over my face and neck.

About 2 years ago, I started to see small sections of skin on my chin look patchy.

At first, I thought it was just my skin showing signs of aging, but then I started to get brown dots inside other brown dots on my chin. It looked very strange.

I went to my dermatologist to see if it was happening because of a serum or cream I was using. She looked at me and said:

“No, sadly that is not what is happening. You are showing signs of Vitiligo and unfortunately, there is nothing that can really be done about it and it may get worse and show up on other parts of your body over time.”

She was right. It has spread not just on my face, but I have new and spreading white patches also on my hands, arms and knees.

Over the last two years she has prescribed a few topical creams. When she gives them to me, she tells me not to expect much as the disorder is hard to cure. The only option would be to bleach/laser my skin like Michael Jackson did, but if I was lucky enough to have the Vitiligo clear itself up, then I would be left with bleached spots of skin, so the process is not recommended.

Blogger In My Own Style on a vacation in France

During the fall and winter months, it is not as noticeable because I am not outside in the sun as much.

When spring comes, each passing week into summer it becomes more noticeable as sun exposure makes it look worse. This is because the skin that is unaffected (still has pigment) gets tan from the sun and the contrast between it and the white skin where the pigment is lost shows up more. These white areas turn pink in the sun.

With each passing year, I have lost more pigment and my white patches are getting larger. If you look closely at the photo in my blog sidebar that was taken two years ago now, you can see a few lost patches of pigment starting on the right side of my chin.

Vitiligo occurs when pigment-producing cells die or stop producing melanin — the pigment that gives your skin, hair and eyes color. The involved patches of skin become lighter or white. It can happen on all skin colors. It is an autoimmune disorder and can be triggered by an event, such as stress, severe sunburn or skin trauma. Contact with a chemical is also thought to be a cause.

I feel mine was triggered by stress since it started after a very upsetting and life-changing event happened to somebody dear to me. It still upsets me every single day. This event pushed my immune system over the edge.

Allergies to foods such as gluten and dairy as well as sun exposure worsen it. I now have to address my body as a whole, focusing on healthy food, plenty of exercise and taking steps to relieve stress and ways to calm my mind. Sadly, the state of the world right now is not helping keep my stress levels down. :-(

Life outside now for me has me always wearing a wide brim SPF hat with my face covered in sunscreen. I have quite a few hats, so I can at least feel like I am making a fashion statement.

Black Burberry flap hat

Recently when shopping online for a new hat, I came across this Burberry hat. It is just what I need when out in the sun, but the price tag is totally RIDICULOUS!!!!! $490.00!!!!

I assume it is marketed for Jetsetters whose lifestyle has them going from one tropical paradise to another all year long and who can afford to pay that price for a simple hat.

I may have to use the design as a pattern to DIY my own. :-) Most hats with flaps sold have a flap along the back to cover a person’s neck. I need to cover the sides of my face like this hat would do.

Boat tied up on floating covered on Lake Murray

You know the old saying… “When life give you lemons, make lemonade”

I am keeping that in the back of my mind along with a positive attitude about my patchy skin and learning to “own it” with confidence. Life could throw me something a whole lot worse.

Floating dock and stationary dock getting a coat of stain.

It hasn’t stopped me from doing anything… even outdoor projects like staining the dock.

Lakefront Gazebo and dock floor being stained by Diane

So wide brimmed hats have become my must-have along with plenty of sunscreen.

Long lake dock after getting stained, American flag blowing in the breeze.

Once I finished getting the dock stained…

Upper deck on house getting stained.

I headed to the house to stain the second floor deck.

After photo showing stained wood deck.

Now that the dock and upper deck are done, I will move onto the main deck of the house wearing one of my many hats to get the job done in style. :-)

Once I get the main deck stained, I will post about the process and brand of stain I used.

Wide Brim Hats I Like

My Favorite Sunscreens

I have tried many brands of sunscreen and do have a few favorites. I like these because they have a high SPF, can be rubbed in, have no harsh chemicals in them and no fragrance.

Opaque Sunblock Application Tip: I learned that when applying opaque white sunblock you should apply it using small circular motions, instead of swiping across your face. Small circular motions help to blend the white opaque color in better so you don’t see it. It works!

blogger In My Own Style standing on lakeside dock

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  1. You are a jewel in this jewel box of a life… Keep your great attitude, always love reading your many challenges and how you overcome them with your greatness.

  2. Hi Diane:) I feel your pain. I have vitiligo too, it started with a small patch on my knee, no it’s inside my inner thighs, I have huge patches under my armpits, some on my elbows and hand, as well as some on my face. I’m fair so it doesn’t show as much in the winter, either, but if I get a tan at all it does. I also have really bad psorasis which I feel like is related because they are both autoimmune. It’s one of those things that we just have to accept, I guess, and not let it slow us down too much.

    1. Hi Krista –

      So sorry to hear that you have to deal with Vitiligo also. XO. Have you had it long time?

      One of my fitness instructors has your coloring and had it over her entire body as a child and teenager growing up in the 1980’s. She was treated with lights and no longer has any patches. They no longer do this treatment, at least where I live. Her skin in creamy white now.

      Did you see what Julia from Cuckoo for Design wrote in the comments on my post? Her daughter had it along with other problems that they or her doctors in the states could not figure out. It wasn’t until she went to visit her parents in Germany that she found a doctor who told her that it had to do with GI issues. She was treated in Germany and now she is so much better and sees a Naturopathic practitioner in the states. Worth looking into or sending Julia a note to find out more.

      I am happy to see that you don’t let it stop you from living life.

  3. Thanks for sharing. I believe I have the same thing on my arms (thanks for sharing about stress) but also had reconstructive surgery on half of my nose because of basal cell carcinoma. Always looking for great hats! My derm recommended Ulta MD but I also like the Alba products recommended by the EWG. Sending love from my new hometown of Beaufort.

    1. I also have vitiligo on my armpits, torso, and hands. None on my face so far. It is not fun but it could be so much worse. I am quite fair and I avoid getting a suntan.
      It was interesting to see the comments about the connection with autoimmune diseases , candida, and gastrointestinal problems. I may try using Selsun Blue, although I think it works on a different type of skin problem. I have a friend who also has vitiligo and he has serious gastrointestinal problems so there may be a connection. Hopefully there will be more vitiligo research in the future.
      Your blog is wonderful, by the way.

      1. Thanks Elizabeth – I agree that Vitiligo may be caused by disturbances in the GI tract or add to it. I am trying to eliminate all added sugars as a start to get my gut health better. I have been trying to find out more, but there is so little about it. I have read serums with Magnesium and Zinc have helped some and that anyone with the disorder, should get 4x more Magnesium in our diets than recommended amounts. We are like pioneers trying to do what we can to figure it out. Let’s hope for more research.

    2. Thank you so much. XO So sorry to hear about having to deal with basal cell carcinoma and having to have reconstructive surgery. :-( That is life changing and scary. I have a good friend who has gone through the same thing. She wears a hat and sunscreen always now too. I will check out the Elta MD and Alba sunscreens.

      There is another skin problem that looks like Vitiligo that many people have. It is caused by a fungus and is called, Tinea versicolor. If you Google it, you can see the differences in the two and figure out what you have. I bet the weather down in Beaufort is beautiful. Such a pretty place. Enjoy!

  4. Hi Diane,

    Gosh, I’m sorry to hear about your Vitiligo, however, it sounds as though you’re handling it as best you can, things could be worse, right? The deck looks amazing, great job. The weather has been beautiful here in Atlanta, glad you all are having good weather too, get outside and enjoy it (with your hat and sunscreen ?)

  5. Diane, I am very sorry about the event that caused you such trauma. I have a friend who suffered a terrible, sudden loss a few years ago, and I have always believed that led to her own vitiligo which developed very shortly afterwards. Praying for peace for both of you.

    1. Hi Pat – Thank you so much for your nice note, prayers and telling me about your friend. I hope she is OK and is trying to live fully again. Stressful events, especially ones that are out of our control are not good for the mind and body. :-(