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Vitiligo, Michael Jackson and 65 Million Others Worldwide

By HERWriter
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After someone famous dies, we often become more interested in the diseases they had which when they were alive--we paid little attention. Michael Jackson revealed that he had lupus and vitiligo many years ago, but the news was not played up to the public.

The condition of his skin was often reported on but not in a way that helped any of us understand what he or others with this condition might be going through.

Vitiligo is a skin condition where the cells that make skin color, the melanocytes, are destroyed so that white patches appear. It frequently occurs on hands, faces and neck areas. Vitiligo may occur in conjunction with other autoimmune disease like lupus and appears to have a genetic disposition as it can run in families.

Medical treatments for vitiligo include:

1. Topical steroids: Creams containing cortisone, similar to the anti-inflammatory hormone produced in the body, may need to be applied for months before results can be seen. Cortisone creams are not as effective as PUVA (see below) but are the safest drugs to use so are appropriate for children.

2. PUVA: Is thought to be the most effective treatment for vitiligo but is time consuming. A drug called psoralen is spread on the depigmented area or taken orally before exposing the area to UVA light. Treatments are given 2 or 3 times a week in a doctor’s office. Sunburn is the greatest risk after these exposures so sunscreen must always be worn. Oral psoralen phototherapy is not recommended for children under 10. (if you have a history of lupus like Michael Jackson was reported to have, PUVA therapy is also not recommended.)

3. Depigmentation: For people who have vitiglio on over 50% of their body, depigmentation may be considered. Patients apply a hydroquinone cream twice a day to the pigmented areas until it matches the whitened areas of their skin. The result is usually permanent and the person will be exceptionally sensitive to the sun and always require sunscreen for protection.

Surgical treatments for vitiligo are only considered if medical therapy is unsuccessful.

Add a Comment15 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

please not that Michael was very sensitive emotionally, mentally AND physically. This was obviously overlooked by his most recent physician and many others. The often seen photo of him going to court in his pajamas was really no joke. It causes me great anguish when I think about how awfully Michael has been treated especially, a man who showed great humility as he was shy about personal issues.

November 11, 2009 - 10:58am
EmpowHER Guest

I feel funny speaking about Michael in this way because Michael tried to have some privacy. In Oprah's interview, Michael speaks of his Vitiligo condition which can be a symptom of Lupus. He states that he had a serious disease but did not name it. It is Geraldo Rivera that did a follow-up story about Michael having Lupus. Michael's most recent dermatologist has since devulged, at least twice, what is supposed to confidential; client/patient information.

November 11, 2009 - 10:47am
EmpowHER Guest

please correct your article, Michael Jackson stated that he did have vitiligo, but never said anything about lupus.

November 11, 2009 - 10:19am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

MJ's doctors have mentioned lupus (at least 2 different doctors). MJ said he has skin condition in the Oprah interview but didn't speak of a techical term. MJ was a part of lupus fundraisers too. BTW, why does he need to declare to the world he has a disease? How many of us would want ALL our friends and relatives know about our diseases? Come on, here we are talking about the most famous man on earth and every corner of the world knows him. I believe he deserved a lot more privacy than us as he was hardly granted any. Imagine he goes out to Paddigton station and people mob him until they knock him off to floor (I believe it was the same whether it was Japan, UK, India or USA). We can never imagine what it was to be MJ.

November 11, 2009 - 6:01pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

he said something about lupus, too

November 11, 2009 - 11:57am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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