Treatment options for vitiligo 

Treatment
Pros
Cons
Sun protection

Avoid sunbeds and use sun cream or cover up whenever you're exposed to the sun

  • Will protect you from sunburn
  • May make your vitiligo less noticeable if your other skin is also not tanned
  • Other health benefits – for example, reduces your risk of skin cancer
  • You may need to take vitamin D supplements to keep your bones healthy
Camouflage make-up

Creams that match your natural skin colour are applied to cover the white patches

  • Creams are waterproof
  • Creams last up to four days on the body and 12-18 hours on the face
  • Some available on prescription
  • Service free from Red Cross (donations welcome)
  • Need training to learn how to apply the creams
  • Not a permanent solution and doesn't treat the vitiligo, it only covers it up
Topical corticosteroids

Creams and ointments containing steroids

  • May improve the appearance of skin patches further
  • Different strength medicines available and different types, such as creams and ointments
  • Unlicensed for vitiligo (the medicine doesn't have a license to treat it)
  • Can cause streaks or lines in your skin, thinning of your skin, visible blood vessels appearing, excess hair growth, contact dermatitis and acne
  • Not suitable for segmental vitiligo
  • Not suitable for children without specialist advice or referral to a dermatologist
Topical calcineurin inhibitors

Creams and ointments containing pimecrolimus or tacrolimus

  • Suitable for adults and children
  • Unlike corticosteroids, don't cause thinning of the skin
  • Only available from a dermatologist
  • Unlicensed for the treatment of vitiligo
Phototherapy

Exposing the areas of skin affected by vitiligo to ultraviolet light

  • Can be used if other treatments haven't worked, or if vitiligo is widespread or affecting your quality of life
  • Suitable for children and adults
  • Only available from a dermatologist 
  • May increase risk of skin cancer
Skin graft

A surgical procedure to remove healthy skin from an unaffected area of the body and use it to cover a white patch

  • Can be used to cover an area that affects your appearance
  • Only available if recommended by a dermatologist
  • Not suitable for children
  • Not widely available in UK
  • Time-consuming procedure
  • May cause scarring
Depigmentation

Painting a lotion onto your normal skin to remove the pigment (colour) so it matches the white skin

  • May be used if vitiligo covers more than 50% of your skin
  • Can cause side effects, such as stinging and irritation
  • Has to be reapplied continuously
  • Leaves your skin with no protection from the sun
  • Usually permanent and can't be reversed