what my daughter has in common with michael j.

Flip Flops

I took Averie in for her annual vitiligo check-up last week and found out that we forgot to go in last year. Oooooops. Yes, please send that mother-of-the-year award my way!

Unfortunately, there haven’t been any breakthroughs in the treatment of vitiligo, nor is there a cure. If you are not familiar with this disorder, vitiligo causes depigmentation of areas of skin. The melanocytes die or cannot function properly. The cause is unknown, but it’s thought to be autoimmune or genetic and occurs in less than 1% of the population.

When people were accusing Michael Jackson of bleaching his skin, he was really just suffering from vitiligo. His signature glove? A way to hide the patches on his hand.

There are a few treatments we can try that may bring some color back to Averie’s skin. The most realistic, for us, at this point in time and living in the North Dakota cold, is to have her start tanning. YES. I SAID TANNING.  You might as well send me yet another mother-of-the-year award. I will be taking my 11-year-old daughter to a tanning salon. We even have a note from the dermatologist.

This opens up a whole new can of worms… mainly skin cancer, premature aging, and all those other nasty things associated with over-tanning. We will be taking preventative measures to only expose the areas that need be (which is, right now, her legs knee-down to her feet and her arms elbow-down to her hands). She puts a probiotic ointment on all her “spots” twice daily and then we will take her tanning a few days a week for a couple of months to see if this helps her regain some coloring.

The doctor had also suggested getting a home machine (woot! Tanning parties at Averie’s house!) but we will hold off on that awhile. And really? I don’t want a big-ass tanning bed in my house. Most insurance companies battle the treatment of vitiligo, saying it’s only cosmetic. Which is completely bullshit because are you really going to tell me that a disease that can completely alter someone’s appearance does not affect a person in other ways? Of course it does.

So, we are going to try the combination of probiotic and UVB rays and see if it helps. She is so young and I know that it will most likely get worse as she gets older, so if there is any chance of it helping, I want to give it a try. We have a Wood’s lamp at home, so I will photograph her spots in the blacklight for comparison in a few weeks. Hopefully, the color will be returning somewhat!

I asked the doc if she was more prone to other autoimmune diseases down the road and got the answer I knew was coming. Most likely, it would be thyroid-related. I know what to watch for and am aware, but hopefully we won’t have to deal with any other issues.


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  • AnnG

    What a terrible thing for you and your daughter to be going through. Sending prayers your way for those tanning sessions to help! She is such a beautiful young lady I hope that this helps her skin issues!!

  • Shana

    I hope the treatments work!

  • Heather D

    She is so gorgeous. Screw that vitiligo!
    I wish someone would let me tan. I miss it.

  • Shawn

    That is crazy…all of it. But I do think nice tan legs are better than leg warmers!

  • Stillmary

    I have it too so I always had more empathy for Michael Jackson than most. I recently ran into a nurse who had it and she said that doctors have told her that if she moved to a warm sunny climate (think AZ) her pigmentation might come back. I believe that too because as I spent time in the sun over the last couple of summers, I regained pigmentation spots where my hands had been totally white. For me, it's unpleasant. My grandchildren ask why my skin is like that and I tell them. I understand that it looks funny to them but to me it's not contagious and it's not painful and if I must have an affliction, this one's not the worst.
    But I'm 64. And your daughter is 11 so there's no comparison. I hope they find a cure and in the meantime, I hope the tanning helps her.
    Just so you know, Michael Jackson did bleach his skin so that he wouldn't have spots of pigment and patches of white. I do think it's much harder on darker complected people – much more noticeable.
    Anyway, prayers for a cure for your daughter.

  • imadramamama

    You know what, though? She's one tough cookie, that Ave. I hope the tanning works and there's no further problems down the line!

  • Life with Kaishon

    I am so sorry she has to go through life with this burden to bear. : (
    She is very adorable. I will pray that your Dr's and the medical field in general can find a new way to treat it!