Vitiligo in my hair by Lesley Murray

You printed a letter of mine a couple of years ago regarding the use of Dove self tanning moisturiser, which reading the letters page seems to have helped a number of people. Perhaps you could print this email so that it will not come as such a shock to find that your hair may also be affected. In all the years that I have been a member of the Society and receiving Dispatches.

I do not remember anything being mentioned about your hair being affected by Vitiligo, it is always mentioned as a skin disease'.I have had Vitiligo since about 18 months old, I am now 52. My body (skin) is totally white and I am becoming more comfortable with the colour of my skin and I get comments on how smooth my skin is, this is perhaps because I have not sunbathed. I use Dove Summerglow body lotion which some of you may remember from a letter in dispatches a couple of years ago. Last year on a fairly regular visit to my hairdressers for cut & dry, my hairdresser said that there was a patch of white in my hair. It was at the back so I had not noticed, and my husband being a typical male had not said anything because he thought I had done it on purpose as a fashion thing. I asked the hairdresser if it was grey hair, being 52 you expect to be going grey, but she said it was pure white and was not there on my previous visit about 2 months before.

I had no idea if it had anything to do with Vitiligo or if it was something else, or even if it would fall out. I did remember that my head had been itching for a while in that area, but had thought nothing of it. In the literature that the Society sent me around 15 years ago, there was not any mention of the chance of the hair also going white.

Thanks now to the Society they have put my mind at rest. Apparently Vitiligo can also affect your hair, this includes beards, eyebrows and eyelashes. The Society sent me some information on dying the various hairy bits. Thanks for the information.

Regards Lesley Murray

Dear Lesley I remember you very well from your letter regarding Dove – because as you say – it helped a great many people and we use the “advice” on the helpline to continue to help others. I can understand why your husband thought the patch was a fashion statement! This is our advice. (Jennifer Viles)

DYEING HEAD HAIR AFFECTED BY VITILIGO Abstract from the publication “Vitiligo – Understanding the loss of skin colour” by Marion Lesage for the Vitiligo Society (published 2002) 

Every authority/manufacturer I have consulted tells me that there is no problem dyeing hair affected by Vitiligo, however people with hair affected by Vitiligo tell a different story!

The best advice I have received so far is from my own hairdresser, who says that a product which contains ammonia is essential to raise the hair cuticle. The ammonia will almost certainly have to stay on the hair for longer than for people who do not have hair affected by Vitiligo. Provided this is done there should not be a problem in getting the Vitiligo hair to accept the dye in the normal way.

Of course the need to use a patch test when trying out this method on yourself is essential. I would strongly recommend that anyone experiencing problems should contact the product manufacturer for advice and ask to speak to the technical department for product development. Only if enough customers do this will the manufacturers become aware of the problem. Then they will not be able to say that the problem does not exist and they may be motivated to do something