Should some one get a vitiligo tattoo the answer is not straight forward despite so many taboos related to vitiligo it is equally important to understand why one wants to get a vitiligo tattoo.The answer is not straightforward, and requires some discussion about the purpose of the tattoo, the stability of vitiligo, and the expectations of the patient. Some people want to tattoo a vitiligo spot with their skin color, so that it covers the spot and their skin looks even. Others want to tattoo a picture or phrase over their spots to serve as a distraction, and others just want to get a tattoo on a part of the body that doesn’t have spots, but they heard that it might make their vitiligo worse. I will address all of these options here, as well as their pros and cons.
Alternatively, I have seen many patients with tattoos over their vitiligo spots that are interesting pictures or phrases that become a distraction from the white spots, and these often work well. For example, one patient had the phrase “You are beautiful” tattooed over her vitiligo. Another person tattooed PRIDE on her back, with a purple ribbon representing vitiligo awareness as the “I” (see right, images used with permission). This approach does not depend on matching the skin color or shape of the spots, so it can work well. However any trauma or damage to the skin, including puncturing the skin with a tattoo needle, can worsen vitiligo at the site, or create a new vitiligo spot. This process is called koebnerization, which is common to see on the knees of children with vitiligo, for example, because they often fall, scrape their knees, and vitiligo appears. Another patient I saw with this was an avid mountain biker, who frequently banged up his legs, and had many vitiligo spots up and down his shins. This may or may not happen if you have vitiligo and get a tattoo, but it is more likely to happen if your disease is actively spreading, such that you are getting new spots or your old ones are getting larger. It is a particular risk if you tend to get vitiligo spots where your skin is damaged, from a burn or a cut, for example.