Recent Blog Articles

By the way, doctor: What can I do about vitiligo?

Updated: May 01, 2007

Q. I have white skin patches on both hands. My doctor says it's vitiligo. What causes this, and how can I treat it?

A. Vitiligo is a common condition in which the skin loses melanin, the substance that determines the color of the skin, hair, and eyes. When the cells that produce melanin die in a given patch of skin or can no longer make the pigment, that area becomes white. Vitiligo most often appears on sun-exposed areas, such as the face, arms, backs of the hands, knees, and feet. It can also develop around orifices, including the mouth, eyes, nose, and anus. Some people lose color in the mucous membranes of the mouth or the retina of the eye.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.

Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.

  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »

I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.

Sign Me Up

Already a member? Login ».

Disclaimer:

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.