Question 16. Tattoo for vitiligo patches: when and how?

Key points

  • Cosmetic tattoo represents the standard treatment for achieving permanent camouflage in vitiligo areas.
  • It is especially helpful for mucosal vitiligo.
  • Adverse effects must be considered.

Tattoo have been and are worn by the general population for ritual or symbolic reasons. It consists of introducing micropigments into dermis, i.e. inerting iron oxides which are unable to migrate. The micropigment implanted into skin cannot be washed off, but its colors fade naturally in 24-36 months.

Cosmetic results depend on doctor’s or technician’s skill in matching the color of the tattoo with the color of the surrounding normal skin. Dark skinned people usually have better results than fair-skinned individuals.

Some adverse effects that have been reported include recurrences of herpes simplex infection, chronic granulomatous reactions to implanted pigments, allergic reactions, koebnerization, imperfect color matching and also, in our experience, cutaneous pseudolymphomas.

Author: Prof. Torello Lotti, MD

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