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Kandice Benford is sharing her story about how she developed a severe case of vitiligo across her face right before her wedding day.

The disease is the loss of skin color in blotches and is thought to be an autoimmune condition that causes a person’s own immune system to attack cells that make pigment in their skin.

The Mississippi-based hairdresser tells SELF that she first had a small bout of vitiligo when she was in college.

“It appeared on my finger and my doctor said it would go away,” she recalls. “It did—it just came and went.” Bedford says she would have little spots that would show up on her skin “here and there” but they all were tiny and would simply go away over time.

But in May her fiancé had an undisclosed “really serious” illness that happened around the time they were planning their wedding.

“It was really stressful. I was worried about him,” she says. During that time, she noticed a little spot of vitiligo on her nose. “I thought it was going to go away, but it spread a little,” she says.

Once it spread across her face and developed on her hands, Benford says, “I was just worrying and stressing over my husband and the wedding.”

Her doctors believe the stress may have triggered the condition.

 

“Stress makes everything worse,” Gary Goldenberg, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, tells SELF.

“I used to try to cover it up but now I just embrace it and be me,” Benford says. In fact, for her wedding day, she just wore a light layer of makeup.

Her husband has also been supportive. “He always told me I didn’t need to cover it up because I’m beautiful with it,” she says.

There are several treatment options for vitiligo, including anti-inflammatory creams, medications that affect the immune system, light therapy, and Dr. Goldenberg says that an anti-inflammatory diet may help.

“In my experience, what really frustrates patients is the fact that not every treatment will work for every patient,” Dr. Goldenberg says. “So, many different treatments may need to be tried before a patient may respond.”

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