I'm Robert Fluin, I'm 19 years old

I'm Robert Fluin, I'm 19 years old

and when I was eight
I was diagnosed with vitiligo.

It's a skin condition,
it relates to the pigment in the skin.

It's when there's a lack of colour,

It first appeared on my torso
and on my shins of my legs.

It affected them quite badly. They were
90 per cent covered for a long time.

They have repigmented.

It now affects my feet,
around my bum and my groin

and just on my elbows and my hands.

When my mum first noticed the patches
she took me down to my GP

and I was lucky that my GP already had
a slight understanding of what it was,

so we were referred
to a consultant dermatologist.

From there they examined me,
explained fully what vitiligo was

and gave me some options
on different treatments as well.

I've tried steroid creams.

I tried these for four years,
I think, on and off,

because you can't use them
for a long period of time.

These weren't very effective on me.

They are effective on some other people,
it varies.

So I stopped using the steroid creams.

I was then told about a treatment
called PUVA,

which is a light-based treatment.

This is where you go into a chamber
like a sunbed, a stand-up sunbed,

and you're exposed to a strand of light

for however long
you're recommended to be in there.

From there I went
to the British Red Cross.

They deal with camouflage

and what they did was
they took lots of different samples

and then matched it to my skin tone
and then applied it.

To begin with I liked the fact
that I was able to cover it up.

I went on holiday one year,
I applied it for the first two days

and then I just decided
I didn't want to do it any more.

It's too much for me. Why should I
have to cover up what I am, basically?

When I was first diagnosed
I didn't like wearing shorts any more

because it exposed the patches
on my legs,

I wouldn't take my top off
when I was out in the sun

because it exposed the patches
on my body

and I became very depressed
quite quickly.

People would always be staring
at the patches on my skin

and I would always be thinking,

"Why do they have to stare at me?
I don't like it."

My mum rang up the Vitiligo Society
and explained the situation

and I was then put in touch
with a group called Changing Faces.

They were a small charity at the time

that dealt with people
with disfigurements.

They do workshops and counselling

and they give you the tools you need
to deal with people looking at you,

how to confront them
when it comes to it,

and from then on
I think that's been a big change for me.

I've looked at vitiligo
in a completely different way.

I now have a son with my fiancée.

We've been together
for about a year now

and Harry was born
three and a half weeks ago.

He's great.

I'm slightly worried
that he might get vitiligo one day,

however the link is not much greater

than how you would
get vitiligo normally.

With vitiligo, it can come at any age,
from nought to 90.

This is something that is unexplained,
there is no reason for it,

but what I would say to anybody
who does develop vitiligo,

especially in your older age,
because you don't grow up with it,

is to seek out
someone like the Vitiligo Society

because when you're first diagnosed
it is a chronic disease

and it is something
that will more than likely be with you

for the rest of your life.

Even though you're told
there's not a cure,

there are ways to deal with it

and there are things that can be done
to slow down the process

or even repigment the skin,

so I would suggest seeking out
someone like the Vitiligo Society

to get the information needed.