Life would be boring if everyone and everything looked the same. Most of the time, it’s the differences in our physical appearances that make us unique and interesting.
Take the case of vitiligo, for example. Technically, it’s a disease, and a rare and unusual one at that, in which patches of skin lose their pigment. But despite the odd way it looks, it’s completely harmless.
Thankfully, people aren’t the only ones who are showing off their vitiligo proudly. Just take a look at these 27 amazing animals!
1. Vitiligo is a rare skin condition that affects both humans and animals. If you’ve ever seen an animal who looks like this cat below, then you know how this skin condition can affect animals. It’s definitely different than how it affects people!
2. Vitiligo causes large patches of skin to lose its pigment. In human beings, this can manifest as two different colors of skin. That’s the same with animals—except that animals usually also have fur covering their skin. Patches of this fur are colored differently than the rest.
3. This cat’s case of the skin condition has mostly affected his ears and his nose. Check out the totally unique appearance it gives this very curious feline! He might be different, but he’s ready to get behind the wheel.
4. How the disease comes about is generally unknown, and while the way it manifests is unusual, it doesn’t cause any harm to the animals. Check out the sweet expression on the face of this pooch. Somebody needs a treat!
5. Some may be more susceptible to vitiligo due to genetic and environmental factors that cause the immune system to attack skin pigment cells. But if that’s bothering this pooch, you certainly can’t tell!
6. Vitiligo has no known cure, although it’s recommended that humans with the condition use sunscreen to protect their skin. Animals, of course, don’t need to do anything, unless they are born without any fur at all to protect them.
7. The condition is most common in humans, with about one percent of the world’s population affected by it. This explains why you are much less likely to see animals with the condition and far more likely to see it affecting humans.
8. That means that about 50 million people have it worldwide. On people, it can be difficult to miss, but because so many species naturally have different-colored fur, it can be a little bit harder to spot in animals.
9. In the United States alone, about two to five million people have vitiligo. While they are all probably very cool people, we have it on good authority that none of them look as desperate for a good cuddle as this little guy with the condition!
10. Though it’s less common, there are certainly plenty of animals with the disease as well, and here’s another pooch who is proof! This beautiful guy doesn’t let anything like looking different keep him from living life to the fullest.
11. Vitiligo affects males and females in equal measure. This butterfly doesn’t seem to mind her friend’s condition. In fact, she almost seems to be attracted to it! Meanwhile, the pup doesn’t just have a new best friend—she has a stylish hair accessory!
12. Vitiligo is less noticeable in animals with lighter skin—or, in this case, fur. If you were to come upon this cat sunning itself on these porch steps, you would think he was no different from any other sun-loving feline.
13. Vitiligo is most commonly found on wrists, hands, and faces… or if you’re a giraffe, apparently it is most commonly found on your neck! Isn’t there something extra majestic about what the condition does to this animal’s appearance?
14. The patches of skin (and fur) that are affected by vitiligo may expand over time, too. Just when you thought you knew your dog’s looks inside and out, there he goes changing up on you! He’s merely keeping you on your toes.
15. The diagnosis is similar to that of albinism, another skin condition. With albinism, animals are born completely without pigment instead of just having selected patches where there is no pigment on them. Sometimes they have red eyes, too.
16. Vitiligo dates back to ancient times, so if your dog is ever feeling blue about their condition, let them know they are part of a longstanding and downright ancient tradition of animals with the disorder. There are many who came before them!
17. There are reports of the condition dating back to 1500 B.C.E. Of course, we know a whole lot more about the condition now than we did back in the earliest days of medical science. Back then, they realized people with the condition were different, but they weren’t sure how.
18. For example, Hippocrates often referred to vitiligo and leprosy interchangeably. In reality, they couldn’t be more different! People and animals with vitiligo aren’t “contagious” and don’t need to separated from society. They need more love, not less of it!
19. Most likely, the name of the disease is derived from the word vitium, which means “blemish” or “defect.” It’s a not-so-nice word to describe a skin condition that doesn’t really blemish animals or people; it just makes them stand out from the crowd!
20. The first known reference to the disease by name was in the text De Medicina by Aulus Cornelius Celsus. Of course, this dog will never read that ancient text and that’s all for the good. Stick to feeding him treats instead!
21. There have been a number of famous people with vitiligo over time. Perhaps the most famous case is that of the late pop star Michael Jackson. Jackson claimed to suffer from the condition, though some speculated he used this as a cover for his extensive plastic surgery.
22. The doubters were forced to admit they got it wrong when, in a 1993 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jackson revealed that he had the disease. This fact was confirmed in the autopsy following his tragic 2009 death.
23. Another famous case of vitiligo is that of model Winnie Harlow (real name Chantelle Brown-Young). She became known as a “vitiligo spokesmodel” after competing in America’s Next Top Model, where she served as a real advocate.
24. Just like their human counterparts, all of these animals prove that vitiligo is a beautiful thing. Couldn’t you just stare at these beautiful animals for hours contemplating their truly stunning appearances?
25. It’s truly their differences that make them special, and you don’t need to look any further than this picture of an elephant with the rare skin disorder to know that it’s true. Just look at the wisdom and beauty in her eyes!
26. We can all draw inspiration from animals like this cat, who doesn’t seem to let his unusual condition bother him. Sure, he looks like he has a lot on his mind, but for the most part, it’s probably stuff like when his owner is going to serve him dinner!
27. Animals with vitiligo go about their lives like they otherwise would, and that should serve as a powerful reminder to people (and animals) everywhere that the way you look should never stop you from living your life to the fullest!
It’s important to remember that, while vitiligo is technically considered a disease, it is not medically dangerous. There’s no reason to look at the people—or animals—with the condition any differently!
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