The black girl who turned into a white woman after vitiligo changed colour of her entire body
Darcel de Vlugt's skin has turned white after getting skin condition vitiligo
Her skin is so pale that she wears Factor 100 sun cream on even a dull summer day.
Yet, incredibly, 23-year-old Darcel de Vlugt was born black.
In a case of extreme rarity, the skin condition vitiligo has taken the pigment from her entire body.
Experts say they have never come across such a striking change and she says: 'I have a hard job convincing people that I was actually born with dark skin.'
Darcel's parents Peter and Charmaine, both from Trinidad, noticed white spots on her forearm and forehead when she was five.
Doctors diagnosed vitiligo, the same condition said to have affected Michael Jackson.
By the age of seven, white patches had appeared on her legs along with white spots on the rest of her body.
These gradually grew bigger until, when she was 17, the transformation was complete.
'My father worked for the United Nations and we travelled the world a lot with his job,' said Darcel, now a fashion designer in London.
'My family believe the stress of moving at such a young age brought on the condition. None of my direct family have ever suffered with the condition, although several relatives by marriage have had it in a less serious form than me.
‘When I was first diagnosed at the age of five, we didn’t take it too seriously. The doctor gave me medication to try and stop it spreading, and we thought that it wouldn’t get any worse.'
But by the age of seven, white patches had started to appear on Miss De Vlugt’s legs, and then by the time she was nine, it had spread up her arms too.
A year later it had started to spread up her neck and up to her nose.
She said: ‘We tried all the treatment we could to try and stop it spreading, but nothing seemed to work. The doctors told me to sunbathe for ten minutes each day which I did for a year, then I took medication for five years.
'At the age of 12 I tried UV laser treatment, but it didn't work and by then, 80 per cent of my body was white so I decided to leave it. There was nothing I could do.’
Aged seven: The white patches are beginning to appear on Darcel's legs
Vitiligo causes the immune system to attack the pigment cells which give skin its colour.
It affects one person in 100 of any age, race or colour although it is normally more noticeable in those with naturally dark skin. Darcel has a brother Dion, 29, who is unaffected.
Their father still works for the UN and is now based in Africa.
Because it has no melanin, Darcel's skin is vulnerable to sunburn, and she has to constantly wear suncream with a sun protection factor of 100.
She said: ‘I was very badly burnt at the age of nine, to the extent where my skin looked like it had been burnt in a fire.
‘I was covered in fluid filled blisters and it took weeks to heal. It was so painful.’
The 23-year-old's parents Peter and Charmaine
Miss De Vlugt was given the option of bleaching the remainder of her skin as her body started to change colour, but she decided against it.
She said: ‘I believe that Michael Jackson had vitiligo and had patches of it on his body, then he bleached the rest so it had an even look.
‘But I didn’t want to bleach it as it would mean it was irreversible, and I had hoped that all the treatments I had been having would work instead.
‘But now my body is completely white all over, with not a patch of brown left, so I wouldn’t have needed to bleach any remaining skinanyway.’
Last month in the Mail, Luke Davis described how he had changed from black to white apart from a circular patch on his back.
But a spokesman for the Vitiligo Society said it was 'extremely unusual' for the entire body to change colour.