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Health A-Z

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Harvard Medical School

Symptoms

Vitiligo causes patches of white skin that are often symmetrical (even), with dark or red borders. The patches can occur anywhere, but the areas most commonly affected are the backs of the hands, the face, and areas that have skin folds, such as the armpits and genitals. Body openings, such as the lips, eyes, nipples and anus are also common areas for vitiligo, as are areas that have been sunburned.

Vitiligo can occur in bursts, so that sizeable areas of skin may rapidly lose their pigment during the beginning stages of the condition, yet then these whitened skin patches may abruptly stop expanding for months or years.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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