Skin Dye To Cover Up Vitiligo

Vitiligo is a common pigment disorder of the skin. It occurs when your immune system attacks your melanocytes, the pigment making cells. This results in splotches of lightened or white areas. The darker a person’s skin color, the more obvious the vitiligo will appear.

There are several ways to treat vitiligo. Applying potent topical steroids or other immune suppressing creams day after day can slowly repigment the skin.

A second way to treat vitiligo is with light therapy. Exposing the skin to ultraviolet light, specifically narrow band UVB, can suppress the immune response and allow the melanocytes to start making pigment again.

Some patients opt to bleach their skin totally white (as has been famously reported of Michael Jackson) rather than try to repigment the skin. This is tricky, though, because often few splotchy brown spots stubbornly remain.

A fourth option is to use skin dyes to cover-up the vitiligo areas. One dye that a few of my patients have had good results with is Dyoderm (Dy-O-Derm). The active ingredient in it, dihydroxyacetone (DHA), is the most common ingredient found in sunless tanners. DHA interacts with the dead cells on the surface of the skin leading to a brown color. It does not affect the pigment producing cells or treat the vitiligo. The brown color only lasts only for about a week before it fades, so it has to be reapplied every few days.

If you have dark skin, then it is unlikely that a dye like dyoderm can create a color dark enough to match your normal skin color. Dyes can, however, minimize the contrast between dark brown skin and white skin, making vitiligo less obvious.

It is also worth noting that DHA can cause a significant increase in skin-damaging oxidizers when it is exposed to sunlight. As a result, you have to be careful to not be in the sun for 24 hours or so after applying; otherwise, you could be exposing yourself to high levels of oxidizers in the dyed areas.

This post is written by Jeffrey Benabio, MD

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37 thoughts on “Skin Dye To Cover Up Vitiligo”

  1. I just ran across your blog and it’s great! Very nice having a health-conscious dermatologist blogging about skin issues. I’m a nutrition therapist (with an additional degree in exercise science) and I also have DH and celiac so I’m into the whole food-skin connection. There are so many skin disorders that may be connected to gluten intolerance — vitiligo, eczema, and alopecia being a few.

    I’ll be back!

    In good health,

  2. Hello Dr.Benabio,

    I was injected with kenalog 11 months ago. 1 month after the injection the surrounding skin developed a white spot, it grew for a week then stopped. The Dr. says the color will come back, but it’s been a long time and no change. Two other Dr. said there’s no change of the color coming back. What should I do?

  3. Vitiligo is pigmentation disorder and the treatment of vitiligo is not a simple matter. because the real causes of this condition is not fully know to any one.

  4. fine info about skin condition vitiligo, although there are many treatment option to treat vitiligo but about non of them one may ask with confidence that it is successful treatment of this skin condition.

  5. Erica Mason says:

    Skin dyes never worked for me, the color was so far off from my pigmented areas it always looked strange.
    I find I need to use makeup. I’ve used ColorTration, Covermark and Dermablend. For me anyway ColorTration worked the best as long as you use their sealing spray.

  6. Skin dye are suitable only for a short period of time to hide your vitiligo macule but could not bring back your pigmentation and nor create new pimentation cell melanocytes.

  7. Rashid valli says:

    Can you advise on a suitable hair dye for me. I have vitiligo skin condition. I currently use just for men.


  8. @Rashid valli
    I read that just for men can cause vitiligo because of the phenol contained in it. Stop using it.

  9. Martin Aldana says:

    My VITILIGO leaves after 35 years, I want to recommend how , This is my Story!!

    Hello Dear Friends, my name is Martin Aldana from Mexico, I am 57 years old, and I have suffered Vitiligo for over 35 years, I have to say I’ve tried all the recommended creams, therapies, pills, and commercial stuff in the market and home made remedies, i even tried with skin transplants, which are so painful and expensive and finally didn’t work, nothing did work for me. I also traveled to Cuba to try with melagenina, and it didn’t work for me, nor the friends that i meet there, none of us got any results,
    I finally gave up all my hopes after that and i did let pass some years trying to accept and forget about cures, until my dermatologist recommended me to take photo therapy with ultra violet b Narrow band, and that my friends gave me for the very first time clear results and until now i remain impressed with my progress.
    It makes you so so happy when you slowly see the color coming back to your white skin and the best is that it does not fades away or looses color.
    I started going to photo therapy 3 times a week, for the first 2 months, at a local hospital and i paid around 25usd per session, that makes the treatment expensive once you do the math it comes up to 7200usd for the 2 years i have been following now daily 4min exposures. the suggestion I make to all of you is to buy a lamp but not those very expensive big cabins, those are very expensive and built for hospitals.
    my dermatologist found a good supplier that ships this low cost lamps, and the size they sell is great because it can cover your body being small and cheap they are called uvtreatment and my doctor has been recommending them for the use at home and office to all the affected patients he knows, i know 4 people that also purchased this lamp and all of them are seeing results, but i think i am among the best result having now like 80% of repigmentation back, i cant believe it if i don’t see it! so my strong suggestion to all of you, if you are willing to be constant is to buy this lamp and start the treatment, they give you a exposure table to follow and they give 2 years warranty i think that is a very good deal, they are in the US and south America so i think they can ship them anywhere. the email is uvtreatment at hotmail dot com. ask them for information they sell them for less than a thousand dollars and ask them for a discount because i got discount when i got mine, another advantage i see on buying your own is that i was feeling very ashamed to go to the phototheraphy and get naked in front of the nurse every third day, plus it was much more expensive than buying the portable lamp. I am a testimonial that they are very effective, my e mail is igualqueahora at hotmail dot com,email me if you need support I encourage you to gain back the lost hopes if you have tried it all,and nothing has worked for you, and do not waste a lot of time as I did because the longest you have had vitiligo the harder it is to heal fast. and most important is maintain positive attitude.
    With affection, Martin Aldana!

  10. I’ve had vitiligo for 21 years. I’ve tried a few creames, oils and pills and they didn’t work. I finally stopped trying and tried to learn to live with it. Then one day I noticed my pigment coming back. They were small spots the size of a salt grain but after a year the small dots have grown and have join together kinda like vitiligo starts. I tried to figure out what I was doing different to cause my pigment to come back. I finally figured it out. My doctor told me I was deficient in vitamin D and wanted me to start taking 4000 IU of vitamin D. I bought the liquid form of vitamin D and started taking 4 drops every morning. I believe this is what’s helping me regain my pigment. I have a friend that has a sister that has vitiligo and she just found out she’s also dificient in vitamin D. I was curious to know if anyone of you are also dificient in vitamin D?

  11. I have also just recently been told by my Doctor that I am deficient in Vitamin D. Why is this?

  12. I’m not sure why? I told my doctor about it( not a dermotologist) and she said she’d put it on her notes. She was excited about it. I’m still getting pigment back. It’s slow but a least it stopped spreading and I’m regaining it.

  13. Hi Patty…Which type of Vitamin D did you take and how many milligrams per dosage?..Is it a particular type or are all Vitamin D’s the same?..Thank you in advance for your feedback.

  14. I’m not sure if all vitamin D is the same, I’ve been taking vitamin D3. It has 1000IU(10ML)per drop. I’ve been taking 4 drops every morning.The small bottle is about $23. You get about 360 drops.I’d show you pictures of my hands but this site doesn’t allow you to. Good luck I hope it works for you to.

  15. all this info is very promising,I was curious (to patty) as to where you purchased your D3 vitamins.

  16. I have this vitiligo for the past 15 years.I tried alot of treatments but to no avail.Can you find D3 vitamins in natural foods?Thank you.

  17. Benjamin Allen says:

    I tried the lamps and they work fine for me. got the small size and i cuold see results only after 3 months.
    this is the first time i really see changes with this
    ultraviolet narrow band lamps on my vitiligo.

    What i would like to know is what other alternative should i take to combine it in order to get a faster result, i am getting the color back slowly i wonder if i could improve the speed of my healing process.

    thanks, any comment or suggestion please email me at

    thanks Ben!

  18. I have tried every brand of makeup to cover vitiligo on my face and nothing works. I am white and have medium skin color.

    Thanking you in advace,


  19. hi guys i am shekhar i also affected by the VITILIGO please tell how to cover its happen up on my eyes so please recommend me faster cure
    thanks is vitamin d3 works please tell me on mail

  20. sandra gonzales says:

    Could somebody please tell me where to buy this vitamin d3 pills. I live in harlingen, texas and I really need your help I also have vitiligo. Also please contact me on how to get these ultra lamps.Contact me please

  21. hi, as far as make up, covermark & dermablend have plenty of colors to help match your skintone. you may need to use more than one color. after using these products for many years, i just got tired of hiding so much, my vitilgo is on my face, and the coverage is heavier than most foundations. so i switched to covergirl&olay-simply ageless foundation. the coverage is good.
    best tip, use a setting powder that doesn’t have talc in it, dries your skin too much. just a little and use a good brush.
    also, moisturize!!! i use one with SPF30 every morning-before applying make up(makes a huge difference) and everynight before bed.apply make upwith a wet make up sponge.
    this process made a huge difference in my skin and how the make up looks on it.

  22. My name is Gracie
    I have no history of Vitiligo at all.I got this after my son was born hes now 15 I never had this before.But I read it could be due to stress too is that true?Well I wanted to know if the skin dyes work and what would you recommend to at lease cover it up? And one more thing if I was to get a tattoo over it would it still spread and will the ink cover it up and stay in?

  23. I have had this vitiligo condition most of my life…I have had the light treatments years ago which did not help. Preesntly I have been using a stain called dy o derm which is produced by a lab company in fort worth texas called gladerma..They have discontinued this product without a reason…This stain is the best method for covering this condition.. Does anyone know of a better stain or any other method for cover up other than cosmetic makeup?

  24. My vitiligo is spreading n I don’t know what to do. My doctor told me there was no cure and that treatments were expensive. Its very embarrassing.

  25. Alexandra says:

    Hi everyone. I have had vitiligo since i was 13 years old, i am 22 now. It has been extremely difficult for me to deal with even after all these years. I try my best to cover it and i dont wear shorts or bathing suits. im always afraid of people staring or looking at me like im gonna infect them. I have tried almost everything in the world but one thing that worked for a little while for me was the creams, protopic and something else i cant remember. its been years. I am married with a wonderful husband that loves me and loves my spots. He always tells me how beautiful i am but i just cant see myself that way. I was wondering if anyone had any advise on how you get through it and how you deal with other people if they ask about it or stare at it.

  26. I have vitiligo & I have been using the vitiligo stain called dy-o-derm for many many years.I had became depended on this product,then I find out the d company (Galderma)no longer make this product.So iam just wondering is there an underlying reason for this discontinue manufacturer of this product,cause it really gave me a sense of confidense by using it,now I have nothing at lease for now 2 replace it.Can u sugest a replacement

  27. I too had been using Dy-O-Derm to conceal, but obviously it is no longer being produced. (I hope this product has not caused harm, but I am concerned that the manufacturer makes no comment on their web site about why this product was discontinued.) I have tried Chromelin Complexion Blend, but it is not nearly as easy to use, nor does it get dark enough, and it’s expensive. I have had some luck with Novitil Gel from Dermabest in conjunction with some light therapy. (I have been using sunlight, but when school starts, I will probably try one of the UVB lamps for sale on E-Bay.) I have also changed my diet lately in a way that may be helping (See the documentary “Forks over Knives.”) In the meantime, I am wondering if anyone can recommend a skin stain like Dy-O-Derm, or explain why these stains have been discontinued.

  28. Thanks for sharing your story, Drew. I’m sure it will help other with the condition.

  29. They’ve stopped making dyoderm. There are some replacements available, though I haven’t looked into how to buy them.

  30. I have looked on line for something similar to Dy O Derm. I have used Dyoderm for 30 years and I am so desperate to find something else. I recently had a couple areas tattoed trying to match my skin tone. It was painful and so ugly as it is healing. If you find anything similar to dyoderm would you kindly post it on your website. thank you so much

  31. Hi Gracie,
    From what I’ve read, a tatoo is one option, but if your spot grows, and many times it does, you will always be chasing it with a bigger and bigger tatoo! It’s not really practical. Mine spread consistently over the years.
    I’ve read a lot of testimonials about the Narrow band UVB phototherapy, and getting your vitamin D levels tested, to see if you’re deficient. People who are, are taking a prescribed amount every day, and it seems to work for a lot of people.
    Good luck!

  32. Hi Martin,
    Congrats on your repigmenting! Could you please send me some pictures of your progress?
    I’m about to start the phototherapy treatments!

  33. I just purchased a product called Vitigone. It is a dye similar to Dy-O-Derm. Although I haven’t tried it yet I am hopeful it will cover my vitiligo. I’ll keep you posted on the results.

  34. I tried having a few spots tattoed but the results weren’t very good. First of all, it took so long for the healing process on the vitiligo to heal. It’s been 6 months and the spots are a very odd color and don’t match my skin at all. I would never recommend it and I was so hopeful. It was very disappointing. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

  35. Thanks for sharing your story. It’s always good to have more information than not enough.

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