Fentse’s Column


your ultimate vitiligo resource


Vitiligo; just the basics.

I am lying in bed, laptop is open, the cursor blinks on a blank page and my fingers wait eagerly for instructions from my head until I realise; I don’t know where to start! What do I say? What do I write about? A mild panic ensues. I breathe deeply and decide to play it cool… so I start with greetings.


Maybe I should also introduce myself.

My name is Fentse. Fentse Mokale.

Okay, that’s done. Now let’s get to it.

The focus is on Vitiligo, that condition that has one thing or another against melanocytes; yes that one. Vitiligo is not much of a buzz topic, it is not widely discussed among those who are not directly affected by it and as a result, it is not widely understood (not even my spellcheck recognises this as a real word). How the public perceives people with vitiligo will have a great effect on how those affected by it are treated. There’s a lot of stigma out there attached to the skin disorder and so those directly affected may experience ridicule, embarrassment and unwanted attention in their everyday lives.

They say one of the best ways to empower yourself is to arm yourself with information. Knowledge. Power!

Let’s get the basics, and expel some myths about vitiligo.

Vitiligo (pronounced by many as vit-eel-I-go) is a skin disorder associated with light patches forming on the skin on different parts of the body. This happens when melanocytes, the cells that form pigment (colour) on the skin do not function. Some people believe that Vitiligo only affects dark skinned people; this is untrue. People of all skin colours are equally affected. Vitiligo is more noticeable on darker skins because of the high contrast between the skin colour and the white patches that appear. It isn’t contagious. You will not get it by being in contact with a person who has the condition. There is no link between vitiligo and milk or any other white coloured foods as some people believe.

Mine is just to create awareness. There exists a wealth of information out there and a good way to erase the stigma and myths around vitiligo is to acquire and share the information.

By Fentse Mokale

(Fentse is the brand ambassador of the Vitiligo Society of South Africa)