Michael : Number one, as I know of, there is no such thing as skin bleaching, I have never seen it, I don’t know what it is.
Oprah : Well they used to have those products, I remember growing up always hearing always use bleach and glow, but you have to have about 300,000
Michael : Okay, but number one, this is the situation. I have a skin disorder that destroys the pigmentation of the skin, it’s something that I cannot help. Okay. But when people make up stories that I don’t want to be who I
am it hurts me.
Oprah : So it is…
Michael : It’s a problem for me that I can’t control, but what about all the millions of people who sits out in the sun, to become darker, to become other than what they are, no one says nothing about that.
Oprah : So when did this start, when did your … when did the color of your skin start to change?
Michael : Oh boy, I don’t … sometime after Thriller, around Off the Wall, Thriller, around sometime then.
Oprah : But what did you think?
Michael : It’s in my family, my father said it’s on his side. I can’t control it, I don’t understand, I mean, it makes me very sad. I don’t want to go into my medical history because that is private, but that’s the situation here.
Oprah : So okay, I just want to get this straight, you are not taking anything to change the color of your skin …
Michael: Oh, God no, we tried to control it and using make-up evens it out because it makes blotches on my skin, I have to even out my skin. But you know what’s funny, why is that so important? That’s not important to me. I’m a great fan of art, I love Michelangelo, if I had the chance to talk to him or read about him I would want to know what inspired him to become who he is, the anatomy of his craftsmanship, not about who he went out with last night … what’ wrong with … I mean that’s what is important to me.
“Mr. Jackson has requested that I make this statement,” The Associated Press quoted the dermatologist, Dr. Arnold Klein, as saying. “It is not contagious and is a result of the loss of pigment producing cells of the skin.” Michael’s dermatologist said he diagnosed Jackson’s discolouring Vitiligo skin disorder in 1986.
“They served a search warrant on me, which allowed them to view and photograph my body, including my penis, my buttocks, my lower torso, thighs and any other areas they wanted,” he said.
“They were supposedly looking for any discoloration, spotting, blotches or other evidence of a skin color disorder called vitiligo, which I have previously spoken about,” Mr. Jackson said.
Mr. Jackson said the warrant stated that he “had no right to refuse the examination or photographs, and if I failed to cooperate with them, they would introduce that refusal at any trial as an indication of my guilt.”
DR. ARNIE KLEIN, MICHAEL JACKSON’S DERMATOLOGIST: I met Michael because someone had brought him into my office. And they walked into the room with Michael. And I looked one — took one look at him and I said you have lupus erythematosus. Now, this was a long word.
KLEIN: Lupus, yes. I mean, because he had red — a butterfly rash and he also had severe crusting you could see on the anterior portion of his scalp. I mean I always am very visual. I’m a person who would look at the lips of Mona Lisa and not see her smile. I would see the lips.
KING: Was he there because of that condition?
KLEIN: He was there only because a very close friend of his had told him to come see me about the problems he had with his skin. Because he was — he had severe acne, which many people made fun of him [for]. He used to remember trying to clean it off and he’d gone to these doctors that really hurt him very much. And he was exquisitely sensitive to pain.
So he walked into my office. He had several things wrong with his skin. So I said — and you have thick crusting of your scalp and you have some hair loss.
He says, well, how do you know this?
I said, because it’s the natural course of lupus. So I then did a biopsy.
KING: [...] Well, what about pain killing medications? Did you prescribe any?
KLEIN: I mean I’ve some sedatives for, you know, when he had surgical procedures that were immense, because, don’t forget, he had a lot of — he had the burn — the serious burn when he was burnt on the Pepsi commercial and the severe hair loss when he, you know, contracted lupus, also.
So when you have to fix all these areas, you have to sedate him a little bit.
But if you took all the pills I had given him in the last year at once, it wouldn’t do anything to you.
KING: What is vitiligo?
KLEIN: It’s a loss of pigment cells. And the pigment cells, you — for every 36 normal cells in your body, you have one pigment cell pumping pigment into them. Unfortunately, it’s an autoimmune disease and lupus is an autoimmune disease. And they tend to go together, because you make antibodies against your pigment cells.
KING: Did Michael have it?
KLEIN: Absolutely. We biopsied (INAUDIBLE).
KING: What causes it?
KLEIN: It’s caused by your immune system and your immune system destroying your pigment cells.
KING: Do black people have it more than white people?
KLEIN: No. But it’s just more visible on black people, because they have a dark skin. The other thing is, it certainly occurs with a family history. And I believe one of Michael’s relatives did, in fact, have vitiligo.
KING: How bad was his?
KLEIN: Oh, his was bad because he began to get a totally speckled look over his body. And he could…
KING: All over his body?
KLEIN: All over his body, but on his face significantly; on his hands, which were very difficult to treat.
KING: So let’s clear up something.
He was not someone desirous of being white?
KLEIN: No. Michael was black. He was very proud of his black heritage. He changed the world for black people. We now have a black president.
KING: So how do you treat vitiligo?
KLEIN: Well, I mean there’s certain treatments. You have one choice where you can use certain drugs called (INAUDIBLE) and ultraviolet light treatments to try to make the white spots turn dark or — his became so severe, that the easier way is to use certain creams that will make the dark spots turn light so you can even out the pigments totally.
KING: So your decision there was he would go light?
KLEIN: Well, yes, that’s ultimately what the decision had to be, because there was too much vitiligo to deal with and…
KING: Otherwise, he would have looked ridiculous?
KLEIN: Well, you can’t — he would have to wear heavy, heavy makeup on stage, which would be ridiculous. And he couldn’t really go out in public without looking terribly peculiar.
KING: [...] How did you treat the vitiligo?
KLEIN: Well, we basically used creams that would even out the same color and we destroyed the remaining pigment cells.
KING: And did his color change a lot over the years?
KLEIN: No, because once we got — we got it more uniform, it remained stable. But you still had to treat it because once in a while — and he had to also be extraordinary careful with sun exposure because of a lot of things. And that’s why he had the umbrellas all the time (INAUDIBLE) skin now.
KING: So when you have vitiligo, you have it all your life?
KLEIN: Usually. Almost uniformly. You don’t just have a little bit of it. And it’s most disconcerting not in white people, but in black people because you begin to look like a leopard.
KING: You can see it. Yes.
Did he have blotches?
KLEIN: He had blotches but we evened out almost all of them. And he was very, very devoted to treating it. I mean he wanted to look well. He wanted to look well for one group of people, his fans. He wanted to embrace and love his fans more than any performer I’ve ever known.
KING: Did he have hair?
KLEIN: He had lost a great deal of it. You forget this first fire…
KING: That was the Pepsi fire, right?
KLEIN: Yes. But then what happened is he used a great deal of what are called tissue expanders in his scalp, which are balloons that grow up — blow up the scalp. And then what they do is they try to cut out the scar.
Well, because he had lupus, what happened is every time they would do it, the bald spot would keep enlarging.
So, I mean, he went through a lot of painful procedures with these tissue expanders until I put a stop to it. I said no more tissue expanders, because he had to wear a hat all the time and it was really painful for him.
KING: So what would his — without the hat, what would he look like?
KLEIN: Well, he had a big raised ball on the top of his head because of this device. It would expand the tissue, which you cut out.
It started happening relatively early, he even was trying to hide it from me..he tried to hide it for quite awhile. He’d always try to cover it with makeup and even out his skin tone until it got so extensive. It’s all over his body. We were always trying to hide it and cover it for the longest time until he just had to tell Oprah and tell the world, ‘Listen I’m not trying to be white, I have a skin disease.’ In the beginning I tried to cover the light spots to match the darker part of his skin, but then it became so extensive that we had to go with the lighter part of his skin because his whole body was reacting…he’d have to be in complete full body makeup, every inch of his body. So it was easier to make the transition to him being to the lighter shade that he is.
Michael’s mother Katherine Jackson says:
His face is white because he has had this disease, and instead of having it spotted like a cow or something like that he just decided to just do the whole thing, because he could afford to do it.
I can confirm that Michael Jackson had vitiligo and discoid (chronic cutaneous lupus) and never had systemic disease that played any role in his passing.
I am concerned that some commentators are relating that a background of abuse has anything to do with lupus. There has never been a peer reviewed published article that specifically has shown this in lupus.
Dan Wallace MD
Clinical Professor of Medicine
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center/David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
He had been diagnosed with lupus and he had vitiligo. There’s some recent research that suggests that if children have experienced either physical or verbal, mental, emotional or sexual abuse, then 20, 30 years later they can develop these autoimmune diseases including lupus.
Michael, he was never sexually abused but according to him, he was traumatized verbally and physically in his childhood, and it was a big issue with him.
He had a lot of blotches on his skin, huge white patches all over his body. So he would cover up his body and that of course gave food for fodder to the press.
It was very disturbing to him that people thought he always wanted to be white and he was bleaching his skin. [But] he identified as being a black person and so it was troubling to him that everyone thought that he was a hater of his own race. And the lupus, why he didn’t just come out more clearly and say that was the problem, I’m not sure. But I know it was something that bothered him a lot.
Michael Jackson’s living in limbo, so the stories start floating around.Now comes one that his “nanny” or whoever she is, Grace Rwaramba, has lupus and is fighting it alone.
This is a weird twist on an old story, so let’s set it straight. It’s Jackson who suffers from lupus, sources close to the former pop star report.
People accused him of trying to be white, which is ridiculous. When I first met him, his vitiligo (a skin disorder that causes pigmentation loss) had gone to the right side of his face and down his neck. Most of his right hand was white. Stark white patches. He used makeup because he had to. Without it, he was speckled all over.
Nordahl never witnessed drug use by Jackson but was keenly aware of pain problems that lingered after the star’s hair caught fire on a Pepsi ad soundstage.
When they were trying to repair that burned spot, he had a balloon under his scalp that was inflated. He let me feel it. It was a huge mound. As the skin got stretched, they cut it out and stitched the scalp. He was in excruciating pain.
Nordlund never treated Jackson but said the singer’s use of the gloves and lipstick was consistent with the patterns of vitiligo, since the spots frequently first appear on the hands and face, including the lips. He said Jackson’s representatives once reached out to several dermatologists, including him, to hold a symposium on vitiligo at the Neverland Ranch, but those plans never materialized.
However, it later transpired that Michael Jackson suffers from both vitiligo and lupus, although the latter is in remission. The reason for his pale apparel is that the disease, the treatments and the make-up all contribute to a slight lightening of his skin tone. It was also suspected that he suffered from anorexia nervosa.