0261-247 3166
Dr Mayur P. Lekhadia M.S. Mch (Bom)
0261-247 3166
Dr Mayur P. Lekhadia M.S. Mch (Bom)


Home Services White Patch / Vitilligo


The king of pop Michael Jackson in his interview with Oprah revealed the following

Michael Jackson: I have a skin disorder that destroy the pigmentation of my skin; it’s something that I cannot help, OK? But when people make up stories that I don’t want to be what I am, it hurts me.

So Michael Jackson had vitiligo and that is the truth. People have used all kinds of things to dispute this, whether it be the ethnicity of the women he’s dated or the plastic surgery he’s gotten. It’s become a situation where he was been forced to defend the fact that he was an African American, the fact that he’s not ashamed of who and what he was. Michael grew up idolizing black musicians, he did all the‘black’ trends. From the music, to the hair styles.

Michael had his greatest success when he was still visibly black; there was no reason for him to have desired to change his color. Michael had it the hardest growing up, and even after he reached fame.

Most of the people who suffer from this disease have a hard time with people either not believing them about their condition or just people giving them a hard time about it. It can be a very hard thing to deal with, could you imagine someone harassing youabout something that you can’t help?

Vitiligo is a pigmentation disorder in which melanocytes (the cells that make pigment in our skin) are destroyed. As a result, white patches appear on the skin in different parts of the body. Patches may also appear on the mucos membranes (tissue that line the inside of the mouth and nose), and the retina. Sometimes the hair that grows on areas affected by vitiligo turns white.

Vitiligo is not a disease as no pain and no specific symptoms are found associated with it. The cause of vitiligo is also not known, but doctors and researches have several different theories.There is strong evidence that people with vitiligo inherit certain genes that make them susceptible to depigmentation. However the most widely accepted view is that the dipigmentation occurs because vitiligo autoimmune disease –a disease in which a person’s immune system reacts against the body’s own organs or tissues. In this, a person’s body produces certain proteins called cytokines that alter the pigment-producing cells and cause these cells to die. These autoimmune diseases include hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid gland), adrenocortical insufficiency (the adrenal gland does not produce enough of the hormone called corticosteroid), alopecia areata(patches of baldness) and pernicious anemia (a low level of red blood cells caused by the failure of the body to absorb vitamin B12) and it is most common in people with thyroid disorders. The exact reason for the association between vitiligo and this autoimmune disease is yet not known. Another theory is that melanocytes destroy themselves. Finally, some people have reported that a single event such as sunburn or emotional distress triggered vitiligo; however,these events have not been scientifically proven as causes of vitiligo. About 1 to 2% of people in the world have vitiligo. Ninety-five percent of people who have vitiligo develop it before their 40th Birthday.The disorder affects all races and both sexes equally. Vitiligo may be hereditary and run in families. This means, children whose parents have the disorder are more likely to develop vitiligo. However, most children do not get vitiligo even if one parent has it, and most people with vitiligo do not have a family history of the disorder. As such there is no particular symptom, but people who develop vitiligo usually first notice white patches (depigmentation) on their skin. These patches are more commonly found on sun-exposed areas of the body, including the hands, feet, arms, face, and lips. Other common areas for white patches to appear are the armpits and groin,and around the mouth, eyes, nostrils, navel, genitals, and rectal areas. People with vitiligo become very sensitive to the sun, because the natural protection that your skin has from the sun gets stripped away along with the pigmentation. Therefore, the most important reason for protecting your skin is to prevent sunburn. Not only is this painful, but damage to the skin, including sunburn, can stimulate the vitiligo to some people. One important thing is that, vitiligo and leucoderma is used synonymously most of the time, but both are different. Vitiligo is an autoimmune disease of unknown origin, while leukoderma is a collective term applied to the skin condition in which depigmentation occurs following some inflammatory injury to the skin. In vitiligo though there may be a history of skin injury in some patients, subsequent white patches appear in normal looking skin. The surface of the skin in vitiligo is normal and there is usually a dark margin at the periphery. In postinflammatory leukoderma, the affected patches show an irregular mottling of dark and white blotchy surface. The distribution in vitiligo is usuallysymmetrical, although sometimes it is unilateral or dermatolomal in distribution.In leukoderma, the dipigmentation is present only at the site of injury. The diagnosis of vitiligo is made based on a physical examination, medical history,and laboratory tests.

The following are the basic tests required:

  • - ANA (Antinuclear Antibody) this test helps determine if the patient has other autoimmune diseases.
  • - Thyroid peroxidase antibody (TPOAb) – Thyroid antibody testing is primarily ordered to help diagnose an autoimmune thyroid disease and to separate it from other forms of thyroiditis.
  • - CBC with differential.
  • - Comprehensive metabolic panel with renal function tests and liver function tests,
  • - Thyroid panel including TSH, ANA, and thyroid antibody
  • - Lupus
  • - Lymphocytes
  • - 25 – Hydroxy –Vitamin D
  • - Folate / B12

Vitiligo is normal and there is usually a dark margin at the periphery. Basically it to rule out any other associated diseases. A test involving the use of the Wood’s lamp is useful to distinguish distinct forms of de-pigmentation. Among a small group of particularly difficult vitiligo cases,the skin biopsy may be needed to separate vitiligo from other skin disease such as Pityriasis Alba, Tinea versicolor, Idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis. People with vitiligo do not have any increased risk for skin cancers. There is a general feeling that vitiligo has no cure. Michael Jackson was first diagnosed during the time he released his ‘Off the Wall’ album, in the mid 70s. Treatments were still being developed and the awareness of the disease was not there. So naturally, the only solution for Michael then was to cover it up using cosmetics. There is a general tendency to rely only on different kinds of oils and ointments for external use whereas vitiligo is not to be treated only externally like injuries and burns etc. External applications do help but they may not be the sole way of treatment because they are not likely to cure the internal disorder causing vitiligo and thus, are not likely to give a lasting cure from within. The goal of treating vitiligo is to restore the function of the skin and to improve the patient’s appearance. As time passed on Michael became lighter and lighter until he eventually just literally turned WHITE, at least in comparison to other people. In Michael’s case, since he was always in the public eye, constantly being photographed, it would be quite embarrassing to show up to events and perform while your skin is spotted with two different colors. Probably this might be a reason as to why Michael went through depigmentation therapy, which is what someone might opt to do when the discolorations have covered most of the body and the use of makeup to hide the difference in color becomes an inconvenience. Moreover he could also afford it. Vitiligo is neither contagious nor harmful medically, yet its emotional and psychological effects can be devastating. Regardless of a person’s race and culture, white patches of vitiligo can affect emotional and psychological well being and self – esteem.Someone as influential as Michael Jackson could even not take this. In fact, in India, women with the disease are sometimes discriminated against in marriage. Developing vitiligo after marriage can be grounds for divorce. Fortunately, there are several strategies to help people cope with vitiligo. What ultimately is necessary is not just treatment but a strong psychological support system that ensures that overall wellbeing and healthy rehabilitation of any individual.