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