Dabbs wasn’t quite a teenager when his vitiligo surfaced. It showed up as a little patch around his eyes when he was in sixth grade, Dabbs said. It spread to his lips, mouth, hands and then across his body.
For years, he wore makeup to avoid stares and have a consistent skin tone. He had his lips tattooed so they wouldn’t be pink. “It made me look so much better,” Dabbs said. He’d get up at 5:30 a.m. to put the makeup on before work. He avoided eating in public and sometimes refused hugging people to avoid smearing it. Dabbs decided against a treatment that would have bleached the pigment out of his skin.
“I was just hoping there’d be a cure,” he said.
In 1997, he got sick and was hospitalized for an unrelated condition, but the toll on his immune system stimulated his vitiligo and almost all of his skin lost pigment.
Now his skin is all one pale color, except for a few spots on his chest, and he’ s occasionally mistaken for a white man.
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