Vitiligo and Tattoos

  • Written By Dan Hunter on November 5, 2020
    Last Updated: November 15, 2020

Vitiligo affects 0.5 to 1 percent of people worldwide, so it’s surprisingly common. If you have vitiligo, you may want to cover your condition or perhaps show it off instead.

Getting a tattoo can help with both of those goals, but you should consider your condition. If your skin is developing many new vitiligo patches, now may not be the best time to get a tattoo.

Keep reading to learn more about getting a tattoo when you have vitiligo.


Types of Tattoos to Get

If you have vitiligo, you can get a tattoo. You can consider all of the same things as someone without the condition, like choosing a tattoo. However, you may want to talk to your doctor before you get a tattoo.

You can get a tattoo when your vitiligo is stable and inactive. If your skin is gaining vitiligo patches, you should wait until it gets to be stable. That way, you don’t have as much risk of triggering more skin changes from your tattoo.

Once you’re ready to get a tattoo, you have a few options.

Skin Coverage

If your skin has been stable for a while, and you have the right treatment to manage vitiligo, you may want a tattoo that matches your initial skin color. Covering a vitiligo patch with your skin color can be a good way to hide it, but it’s not always perfect.

You have to be very careful about the ink you choose. Sometimes, the ink will look slightly different once you get the tattoo compared to looking at the ink itself. The ink may look perfect at first, but it might not match your skin.

Tattoo ink also won’t change color after you get a tan, so that could draw more attention to your vitiligo. And if your condition isn’t stable, you may develop more vitiligo that the tattoo doesn’t hide.

Distraction

Whether your vitiligo is stable or not, you can get a tattoo that distracts people from your condition. You can get a tattoo near a patch of vitiligo and choose an eye-catching design. When someone sees you, they may notice the tattoo before your skin.

A benefit of this is that you can choose any tattoo design you want. You don’t have to worry about coordinating ink colors, and it won’t matter if your vitiligo changes in the future. The tattoo will be permanent, but it can still look good as your skin changes.

Great work by Suresh Machu

You can work with a tattoo artist to choose the perfect design and tattoo spot. Then, you can decide on the right size and color for the tattoo. A distraction tattoo can be a great way to improve your confidence and express yourself.

Emphasis

If you’re more comfortable in your skin, you can get a tattoo that highlights your vitiligo. Some people have chosen tattoos of the outlines of their vitiligo. Of course, those tattoos run the risk of not outlining your vitiligo as it changes.

A border tattoo is best if your skin is stable, but you can also get it to remember where your vitiligo started. As your condition develops, you can tattoo the borders to reflect major changes in your life.

However, you can also get a tattoo that mentions your condition. One woman has a tattoo that says, “it’s called vitiligo” to answer the common question about her skin. Emphasizing your vitiligo isn’t for everyone, but it can be a creative option if you want a tattoo.

Elsewhere

You can also get a tattoo that doesn’t relate to your vitiligo at all. If you want a tattoo of your favorite quote or something else you love, you can do that. You don’t have to connect your tattoo to your existing vitiligo.

In some cases, getting a tattoo elsewhere on your body can be a better idea. You won’t have to worry about aggravating existing vitiligo patches, but new vitiligo may still appear.

Still, you can express yourself with a tattoo for the fun of it. Just because you have a skin condition, that shouldn’t stop you from getting a tattoo. While you should talk to a doctor about your skin, many people with vitiligo can get tattoos.

Risks of Getting a Tattoo

While you can get a tattoo when you have vitiligo, it does have some risks. Even if your condition is stable, the act of tattooing can irritate your skin. You may find your vitiligo gets worse after a tattoo.

So consider the risks before you head to the tattoo parlor. Then, you can decide if getting a tattoo is worth it for you.

Koebner Response

The Koebner response occurs when your skin experiences trauma. It can affect anyone with vitiligo or another skin condition. Puncturing the skin during the tattoo process can cause you to lose pigmentation in that area.

Getting a tattoo involves multiple small punctures when the needle enters your skin. That can increase the risk of triggering more vitiligo, even in a new area of your body. The bigger the tattoo you get, the even bigger risk you can have.

Skin Changes

If you decide to get a tattoo based on your vitiligo as it is now, the tattoo may not look good long-term. While covering your vitiligo with a tattoo can help, your vitiligo can change over time. You may need to go back for additional tattoos as more vitiligo patches appear.

The same is true if you decide to get a tattoo bordering your vitiligo. As it changes, the border may look odd, and you may not like how it looks. However, that can be harder to correct than getting a coverage tattoo.

Vitiligo and Tattoos

If you have vitiligo, you can get a tattoo safely. You should consider your current condition and if your skin is stable. Then, you can use your tattoo to hide or show off your condition, or you can get an unrelated tattoo.

No matter how you choose to express yourself, a tattoo is a personal choice. If you decide it’s the right time to get one, you can select a tattoo that means something to you. However, you should consider the risks of triggering more vitiligo before getting a tattoo to make sure it’s worth the risk.

When you eventually go ahead with getting your dream tattoo, it’s imperative that you always follow your tattoo artist’s aftercare advice closely, and be sure to invest in a high-quality tattoo healing lotion to aid recovery.

The best tattoo lotion I’ve ever personally used is a vegan-friendly aftercare product called After Inked Tattoo Aftercare Lotion. This stuff works amazingly well during the healing process; not only by keeping your tattoo really well hydrated, but also by soothing any annoying itching and irritation. When using it from the very start of the healing process, this lotion will help to decrease tattoo healing times, and work towards eliminating any lingering dryness and scabbing.