Vitiligo Treatment Options

Managing Symptoms

While incurable, vitiligo can be a very manageable disease, with many treatment options currently available across the globe, including medication, light therapy, and creams.

Because no one treatment can change the course of the condition long-term, there is not a specific viewpoint on the most effective treatment overall or one licensed drug to treat vitiligo. However, many topical treatments and therapies have proven successful at managing symptoms for patients.


Commonly Used Vitiligo Treatments



Your doctor can prescribe either steroids or ointments that you can use for up to 2 months or longer to treat patches under watchful monitoring. Steroid creams are the most common treatment offered and recommended.

Light Therapy

Either narrowband UVB or PUVA light therapies are used to treat vitiligo. This treatment involves hospital visits 2 or 3 times a week, and it’s occasionally administered in conjunction with medication.

Other Treatment Options

Not fully recommended options you can explore at your own will: Laser therapies, Vitamin and supplement treatments, Bleaching and skin grafting are only utilized in extremely rare cases

What Treatment Results Can You Expect?

Although there is no complete cure for vitiligo, some therapies can be quite helpful in restoring color to the white skin patches or at least reducing the progression of vitiligo. Treatment outcomes differ from one person to the next and can sometimes result in total repigmentation.

Some treatments may not be effective in all areas of the body or for all people. While color may return to the white spots, there is always a chance that the vitiligo will return later.


Efficacy of Treatments

Different treatments will affect people differently depending on many factors, and a combination of treatments may need to be tried and used to find a suitable solution. According to new research, the efficiency of therapies is determined less by a person’s age than by the location of the vitiligo and when it first appeared:

  • Treating vitiligo when it first appears is more helpful rather than later
  • Larger areas are more challenging to treat than smaller ones
  • The treatment of vitiligo on the face appears especially beneficial
  • Children are more likely to respond to treatment than adults

Treatment Type Sub Type Comments
  • Most commonly used light therapy treatment
  • Research supports that Narrowband UVB is more successful than PUVA
  • Used to treat a variety of severe skin conditions
  • Treatment involves light therapy and administration of medication
Excimer Laser
  • Targeted phototherapy in which a specific wavelength (308 nm) of ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation is delivered by an excimer laser or an excimer lamp
Targeted UVB
  • The use of light or ultraviolet radiation to treat a range of skin problems
Handheld UVB Units
  • The use of light or other forms of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation in treatment
Topical Treatment Options
Topical Steroids
  • Oinment applied to skin to treat diseases
Calcineurin Inhibitors
  • Immune-suppressing medicines that stop the immune system from targeting pigment-producing melanocytes
Cortico Steroids
  • Corticosteroid creams are anti-inflammatory drugs that can help melanocytes grow again or halt the progression of vitiligo
  • Topical depigmenting drugs or lasers are utilized to lighten the skin tone
  • The aim is to reduce the amount of melanin that is still present in areas untouched by vitiligo
  • Cream/oitment that aids in the production of pigment in vitiligo-affected skin areas
  • Oinment that helps bring back pigmentation
Cosmetic Camouflage Options
Make-up Dye Stains
  • Dyes and stains that help conceal vitiligo
  • Form of medical tattooing
  • Common ingredient in self-tanning lotions and creams
Waterproof Products
  • Waterproof creams, liquids, or powders that conceal vitiligo throughout the day
Surgery Options
  • Melanocyte-keratinocyte transplantation procedure (MKTP) is a surgical procedure for restoring skin pigmentation
Punch Grafting
  • Doctor punches a hole in the skin, removing the scar, and replacing it with a plug of fresh skin
Blister Grafting
  • Negative pressure is applied to the usually pigmented donor site in suction blister grafting to encourage the production of numerous blisters
Split Skin Grafting
  • A split-thickness skin graft involves your surgeon removing a thin layer of skin from one place of your body (donor site) and using it to cover a surgical wound (recipient site)
Cultured Autografts
  • Tissue grown from one’s own skin cells for use in placing on the person’s own body
Systemic Therapy Options
  • Treatment that involves freezing superficial skin lesions
  • Cryotherapy is used to treat vitiligo by lightening pigmented patches to make the rest of the skin
Oral Steroids
  • Orally ingested steroids used to treat skin conditions that work by suppressing the immune system
  • Medical therapies that eliminate skin pigmentation that causes contact leukoderma
  • Drug that is used to treat inflammatory skin disorders like vitiligo
  • Immunosuppressant drug that is used to treat inflammatory conditions
Mycophenolate Mofetil
  • Prodrug of mycophenolic acid, a powerful immunosuppressive medication
  • Antibiotic meant to treat skin infections, lesions, and disorders
Subcutaneous Afamelanotide
  • Powerful alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH) analogue that produces antioxidant activity, accelerates DNA repair mechanisms, and controls inflammation in the skin

Join Our Vitiligo Community

Are you dealing with a recent diagnosis or know someone who has vitiligo? We’re here to help you figure out what works best to manage symptoms and improve overall day-to-day life whether you or someone you love is affected.

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