In the media of the early 90s, Michael Jackson was extensively rebuked for ‘rejecting his African descent’. He had many legends about his color change. Even, he was blamed of bleaching his skin to ‘look white’.
In 1993, when all this defamation became too painful for Michael Jackson, during an Oprah show he disclosed that he had a skin disease ‘vitiligo’ (loss of common skin-color pigment), also called as ‘leucoderma’ that turned him white. It all became clear in 1994, when his dermatologist Dr. Arnold Klein gave the evidence that MJ was diagnosed with vitiligo and lupus in 1984. This ‘lupus erythematosus’ is possibly a fatal ailment. However in MJ, it fortunately reduced.
Both discoid lupus erythematosus and vitiligo can produce loss of skin pigmentation.
Michael Jackson With Vitiligo
MJ sustained lupus and so had continuous mental stress. In his early twenties, he had some spotting of vitiligo, which did not respond to medical treatment. It had a persistent growth.
Vitiligo may result into a massive stress and heartbreak, especially in those who have dark skin. When the ailment started with white spots on his face, MJ might have suffered a great emotional shock. Nevertheless, the entire world has seen his extraordinary performances, in succession. There were instances during his shows, when the layers of brown make-up that he used to apply to hide the white spots would fall.
How It All Happened
Then there was a phase in his life, when his white patches bumped up and he had a very little time for the daily makeup. At that point in time, MJ’s dermatologist came with a plan to use 20% monobenzylether of hydroquinone for the ‘skin depigmention or bleaching’. This balanced the growth of white color in MJ’s skin. The said chemical causes a permanent loss of color pigment in skin and produces a chalk-white color.
We all have seen MJ with long sleeves and hat. Sometimes in the open, he was also seen with a cover on his face. This all was because the lack of the color pigment in skin making it more sensitive to sun burns.
Experiments Of Skin Coloring And Troubles Thereafter
MJ’s skin drastically became white as a result of the plastic surgeries performed over an injury in a mishap. It might also have been the reason of complications of his lupus. At the same time in the media, he became the victim of the racist defamation. He was blamed to deny his African roots.
On February 10, 1993, on the Oprah show, he made it public that turning white of his skin is a result of vitiligo. He cleared that he had de-pigmented the skin to balance his skin color. He said, “I’m a black American, I am proud to be a black American, I am proud of my race. I am proud of who I am. I have a lot of pride and dignity.”
This somewhat resisted racist attacks on him. Yet, there are many people who refuse to accept that MJ’s white color was a result of the skin disease called vitiligo.
A Non-Communicable Disease
Vitiligo is not a communicable disease or a threat to the patient. Yet, it is seen with a doubt. Apt health education and a general awareness can surely help to remove the distrust. The case of MJ can be considered as an outstanding example that the disease doesn’t interrupt patient’s career. For this reason, MJ would be kept in memories for years ahead.
Know More About Vitiligo
Vitiligo is an ordinary and an autoimmune skin disease, affecting people 1 in 250 world wide. 50% of the cases are found between the age group of 10 to 30 years. Immune cells in a patient’s body attack and destroy the coloring pigment melanin in the skin that causes Vitiligo.
In some patients, vitiligo is limited to a small area yet remains for a long time. It may start after some skin trauma, stress or other diseases. Vitiligo is a persistent disease with the inconsistent response to its treatment.
Predictors of deprived vitiligo diagnosis can be: –
- the disease in early age,
- presence of associated autoimmune illnesses (like thyroiditis or lupus erythematosus)
- diseases involving patients’ life style (like diabetes, uncontrolled stress),
- black hair suddenly becoming white
- the involvement of lips, fingertips, toe-tips and genitals.
Heredity has a bigger role in vitiligo. There are 30% of patients with the family history of vitiligo. The same was the case of MJ, as his family was affected by vitiligo.
30% patients have the experience of a natural decrease of the white patches over the years. Yet in the most cases, vitiligo is persistent with white patches becoming visible, even though patients undergo medical treatment. The same case happened with MJ.
Clinical Management Of Vitiligo
Though it is not curable, yet in many patients, medical and surgical treatments can hold back its further growth. Proper medical treatment can also grant adequate re-pigmentation.
Medical treatment of vitiligo comprises of: –
- Topical steroids
Surgical treatments are generally implemented for unmanageable and stable vitiligo (unaffected at least for two years). Still, they are possible when only some part of skin is afflicted with the leucoderma. They consist of:-
- Punch grafting
- Epidermal grafting and melanocyte culture