SAN ANTONIO — Do not wait. That is the message one local woman is sharing when it comes to your health.
Vitiligo is an autoimmune disorder. It causes you to lose pigmentation, or color, in patches anywhere on the body. For many with the condition it doesn't just change the color of the skin, but changes so many aspects of their daily life.
"I would walk around with kind of like a straight face, really. Like really no expression, kind of moody," said Tara Robles who developed vitiligo early in life, but it didn't develop aggressively until she was in her 40s. It made her very self-conscious.
"During the pandemic, it was actually kind of nice because I could wear a face mask and a ball cap," Robles told us.
It would often keep her from going anywhere.
"I just would stay inside, kind of be a little introvert because I just don't want to be stared at," Robles said.
"Patients with vitiligo can be impacted negatively with stigmatization, (or experience) psychological stress because of their appearance," Dr. Annabelle Garcia from Sonterra Dermatology told us. "So it really makes a difference when you see patients that just feel overall more confident in their own skin."
Vitiligo affects 70 million people around the world, and close to 3 million people in the U.S. Almost 50% of people develop the skin condition before the age of 20. Men and women are equally susceptible.
Up until recently there was no FDA approved treatment for the condition. Then came Opzelura.
"Tara was one of my first patients," Dr. Garcia said. "I tried it on and it was initially approved for eczema, so we tried it on her off label because I knew that the indication for vitiligo was likely coming."
After just a few months the difference in Robles' skin is dramatic. And her life, no longer locked down. Dr. Garcia told us, "It's just good to see her living a better life because of this treatment."
Robles added, "I feel confident. I don't feel like people are staring at me and I don't feel freakish."
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