Kristian Bertel | Photography
Archive story
In this archive story we are meeting An Indian woman affected by a skin disease at the Qutab Rd in Delhi, India.
Read the background story of this archive photo by the photographer.
In this portrait taken by the photographer at the Qutab Rd in Delhi an Indian woman is seen with the skin disease 'Vitiligo'. It is a chronic disorder that causes pigmentation of pathes of the skin and it occurs when the cells responsible for skin pigmentation die or are unable to function. The cause of the 'Vitiligo' is unknown, but research suggests that it may arise from genetic and stress causes.
In this portrait taken by the photographer at the Qutab Rd in Delhi an Indian woman is seen with the skin disease 'Vitiligo'. It is a chronic disorder that causes pigmentation of pathes of the skin and it occurs when the cells responsible for skin pigmentation die or are unable to function. The cause of the 'Vitiligo' is unknown, but research suggests that it may arise from genetic and stress causes.
Kristian Bertel, Photographer By Kristian Bertel, Photographer
– Updated on March 21, 2024

Qutab Rd portraiture

Traveling though the streets of India, the photographer wanted to seek out faces with a story. As a photographer he was traveling the dusty side of Delhi at one of the main roads in the city when he encountered the Indian woman portrayed above in this archive story. She is affected by a skin disease called 'Vitiligo' that was visible in some of the face of the woman.

What is 'Vitiligo'?

'Vitiligo' is a long-term condition where pale white patches develop on the skin. It is caused by the lack of melanin, which is the pigment in skin. 'Vitiligo' can affect any area of skin, but it commonly happens on the face, neck and hands and in skin creases.

Skin disease portrait in India
When traveling and photographing in India you meet a lot of people and a lot of people with different looks. The woman pictured above has a skin disease called 'Vitiligo', a chronic skin condition characterized by portions of the skin losing their pigment and causes patches of skin to lose their color, resulting in white or lighter patches appearing on the body. It is not contagious and there is no known cause, though some experts believe it may be an autoimmune disorder and the disease affects people of all ages, genders and races, though it is more commonly seen in those with darker skin tones. It can affect any area of the body, though it is most often seen on the face, hands, feet, arms and legs. The main symptom of 'Vitiligo' is the loss of pigmentation or color in the skin. Patches of skin can become lighter or whiter in color and in some cases, the entire body may become depigmented.

In addition, some people may develop a condition called 'Leukoderma', which is characterized by white patches on the skin. 'Vitiligo' can be treated with topical medications, including corticosteroids, calcineurin inhibitors and phototherapy. In some cases, surgical options may also be available and the outlook for 'Vitiligo' is generally good and most people who receive treatment will experience some degree of improvement. However, it is important to remember that 'Vitiligo' is a lifelong condition and the patches may reappear over time. For those living with vitiligo, it is important to seek professional help to get the best treatment. It is also important to remember that 'Vitiligo' is not contagious and that it does not have any impact on a person's health. With proper treatment and support, living with 'Vitiligo' can be manageable and fulfilling.

Depigmented skin
It occurs when skin pigment cells die or are unable to function. Aside from cases of contact with certain chemicals, the cause of 'Vitiligo' is unknown. Research suggests 'Vitiligo' may arise from autoimmune, genetic, oxidative stress, neural or viral causes. 'Vitiligo' is typically classified into two main categories named 'Segmental'and 'Non-segmental vitiligo'. Half of those affected show the disorder before age 20, though most develop it before age 40. The global incidence of 'Vitiligo' is less than 1 percent with some populations averaging 2 to 3 percent and rarely as high as 16 percent. Autoimmune diseases such as 'Addison's disease' and 'Type 1 diabetes mellitus' tend to occur more often in people who have 'Vitiligo'.

There is no known cure for 'Vitiligo' but many treatment options are available. The only sign of 'Vitiligo' is the presence of pale patchy areas of epigmented skin as seen in this photograph from India and which tend to occur on the extremities and the patches are initially small, but often grow and change shape. When skin lesions occur, they are most prominent on the face, hands and wrists.

"The loss of skin pigmentation is particularly noticeable around body orifices, such as the mouth, eyes, nostrils, genitalia and umbilicus and some lesions have increased skin pigment around the edges. Patients who are stigmatized for their condition may experience depression and similar mood disorders"

What is causing the vitiligo condition?
Although multiple hypotheses have been suggested as potential triggers that cause 'Vitiligo', studies strongly imply that changes in the immune system are responsible for the condition. 'Vitiligo' has been proposed to be a multifactorial disease with genetic susceptibility and environmental factors both thought to play a role. The 'TYR' gene encodes the protein 'Tyrosinase', which is not a component of the immune system, but is an enzyme of the melanocyte that catalyzes melanin biosynthesis and a major autoantigen in 'Generalized vitiligo'. Some state the sunburns can cause the disease but there is not good evidence to support this.

The etymology of the term 'Vitiligo' is believed to be derived from 'Vitium', meaning defect or blemish. In non-segmental vitiligo, knowns as 'NSV', there is usually some form of symmetry in the location of the patches of depigmentation. New patches also appear over time and can be generalized over large portions of the body or localized to a particular area.

'Vitiligo' where little pigmented skin remains is referred to as 'Vitiligo universalis'. 'NSV' can come about at any age unlike 'Segmental vitiligo', which is far more prevalent in teenage years. Classes of 'Non-segmental vitiligo' include the following that are 'Generalized vitiligo', which is the most common pattern, wide and randomly distributed areas of depigmentation. 'Universal vitiligo', which is depigmentation encompasses most of the body. 'Focal vitiligo' which is one or a few scattered macules in one area, most common in children. 'Acrofacial vitiligo' which is fingers and periorificial areas. 'Mucosal vitiligo' which is depigmentation of only the mucous membranes.

Portraits of faces in India
As a photographer and traveler in India the portait has been first priority for the photographer and the thing in photography that is saying him the most. Both as a photographer but also as a Storyteller between locations in India.

See this video about 'Vitiligo' in India made by The Better India.

"- As a travel photographer, I've had the opportunity to capture stunning landscapes, vibrant cultures and beautiful people all over the world. However, my recent trip to India opened my eyes to a whole new level of photography and left me with unforgettable experiences. From the moment I stepped off the plane, I was immediately immersed in a sensory overload. The sights, sounds and smells of India were like nothing I had ever experienced before. I could not wait to start exploring and capturing the beauty of this diverse country", the Photographer says.

"- With her pale and light yellow shawl around her face, she almost makes her own room in the street scenery. With a thoughtful facial expression and with a child in her arms, she seem to be in her very own world at the hectic road. The picture therefore poses the question of who we recoqnize in the streets and why. My photographic work captures the different faces of the land, for those of you who have not been there, I see the Indian series of pictures though my profession as a photographer as eye-opening and necessary", the Photographer says again.

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More archive stories

India is a land full of stories. On every street, on every corner and in the many places in India, life is rushing by you as a photographer with millions of stories to be told. In the archive story above, you hopefully had a readable insight in the story that was behind the photo of an Indian woman at the Qutab Rd in Delhi. On this website of Kristian Bertel | Photography you can find numerous travel pictures from the photographer. Stories and moments that tell the travel stories of how the photographer captured the specific scene that you see in the picture. The photographer's images have a story behind them, images that all are taken from around India throughout his photo journeys. The archive stories delve into Kristian's personal archive to reveal never-before-seen, including portraits and landscapes beautifully produced snapshots from various travel assignments. The archive is so-far organized into photo stories, this one included, each brought to life by narrative text and full-color photos. Together, these fascinating stories tell a story about the life in India. India, the motherland to many people around the world, a land of unforgetable travel moments. The archive takes viewers on a spectacular visual journey through some of the most stunning photographs to be found in the photographer's archive collection. The photographer culled the images to reflect the many variations on the universal theme of beauty and everyday life in India. By adding these back stories the photographer's work might immensely enhanced the understanding of the photographs.