What's up with Mrs. Cordek's skin?
1. Vitiligo is NOT contagious. In other words, you can not catch it.
2. Vitiligo does not hurt, itch, or make me sick.
3. I am happy to talk about my vitiligo and to answer any questions you may have. Ask me any time!
Here is some more information about vitiligo from kidshealth.org:
Whether fair, dark, or any shade in between, most people have skin that is generally the same color all over their body. But this isn't the case for people with vitiligo.
Vitiligo is a loss of skin pigment, or color, that causes white spots or patches to appear on the skin. No one knows exactly why this happens, but we do know it affects people of both sexes and all races. In the United States alone, an estimated 1 to 2 million people have the condition.
The good news is that vitiligo isn't medically dangerous. It's not a form of skin cancer, it's not an infection, and it's definitely not contagious. In fact, most people who have it are every bit as healthy as everyone else.
Vitiligo is a skin condition that affects the melanocytes, cells deep within the epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin) whose function is to produce melanin. Melanin is the pigment that gives skin its color and helps protect it from the sun.
Our skin color is determined not by how many melanocytes we have (we're all born with a similar amount), but rather by how active they are. Dark-skinned people have cells that naturally produce a lot of melanin, while light-skinned people produce much less.
Sometimes, though, skin cells suddenly stop producing melanin. At first, this might cause a spot, called a macule, whose color is much lighter than the skin around it. But in time these light patches may spread and grow to cover a larger portion of the body. Sometimes the spread happens quickly, and then remains stable for a number of years; other times it happens slowly, over a longer period of time.
Although vitiligo can occur anywhere on the body, it's more likely to happen in:
areas that are exposed to the sun, such as the face or hands
skin that has folds, such as the elbows or knees
skin around orifices (body openings), such as the eyes or nostrils
Although people of all races are affected equally, spots tend to be more visible on those with darker skin.
Theories vary on what causes vitiligo. Some experts think it is an autoimmune disorder (in which the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy melanocytes). Others think it is a genetic condition, since over 30% of affected people have a family member who also has it. But we know for sure that vitiligo is never contagious — people can NOT "catch" it from someone else.