Vitiligo and Tattoos: Everything You Need to Know

Written by: Claudia
Updated:

According to Mayo Clinic, vitiligo is a, “condition in which the skin loses its pigment cells. This can result in discolored patches in different areas of the body.” Often appearing to look like a big birthmark, you may be wondering if it is safe to tattoo on skin that has vitiligo. Though this condition is rare, affecting only around 1% of people worldwide, we’ve got everything you need to know about tattoos and vitiligo in this article.

Related: Can Diabetics Get Tattoos?

Can I Get a Tattoo With Vitiligo?

There are a few factors you need to consider prior to jumping into your artist's chair and getting a tattoo on your vitiligo skin.

  • You should ask yourself if the purpose of your tattoo will be to cover or highlight your skin condition.
  • You need to consider the stability of your vitiligo.
  • You need to work with a tattoo artist who has experience with this skin or similar skin conditions and can meet your expectations with the tattoo.

If your vitiligo is active, meaning it is growing or spreading, you need to consider how this will impact your tattoo, your original tattoo design (especially if you plan to trace your vitiligo), and how comfortable you will be with the tattoo if your pigmentation were to change.

Apart from considering these factors, a tattoo is absolutely safe to get if you have vitiligo.

Types of Tattoos to Get If You Have Vitiligo

Some tattoo designs or styles are quite popular among individuals who have vitiligo. Of course, no matter what tattoo you are considering, you should speak to your doctor prior to proceeding with the tattoo to get the go-ahead. In addition, you should discuss your condition with your tattoo artist who may have advice or suggestions for the work you want to get done.

Skin Coverage

Some people like to get a tattoo that hides their pigmentation differences that are caused by vitiligo. The challenge with this is finding a tattoo ink that will match your skin tone perfectly. If this is something you wish to have done, you will want to discuss the process with a highly qualified tattoo artist with experience doing similar tattoos, who will be able to mix the perfect tone for your skin.

Keep in mind that tattoo ink will heal lighter than when it is first applied, and if your vitiligo is active, this process may be pointless.

Distraction

Some people like to distract eyes away from their vitiligo with a tattoo that covers up the region. This is usually most effective for individuals who do not have active vitiligo, as it will not expand beyond the design.

Highlighting

Some individuals with vitiligo like to highlight their condition, rather than hide it. They incorporate their vitiligo into their tattoo design, getting creative with their expression, and emphasizing the beauty in their different skin. Some ideas people have had was to trace the vitiligo as though it is a map, highlight the vitiligo as though it is a nebula in a space scene, or create a word or phrase that speaks to embracing who they are and their condition.

Of course, you aren’t merely restricted to getting a tattoo on or around your vitiligo. In fact, many people recommend getting a tattoo in other areas as it ensures, should your vitiligo become active again, that your tattoo design will not be impacted. The fact of the matter is that it is almost always perfectly safe to get a tattoo with vitiligo.

Risk of Getting a Tattoo

The risks of tattoos exist whether or not you have vitiligo, but there are a few factors you need to keep in mind if you wish to proceed with tattooing your vitiligo skin.

  • Skin Changes - Remember that your vitiligo could become active at any moment in time, changing your skin pigmentation and potentially altering the design of your tattoo. If you are planning a tattoo that is intended to cover your vitiligo, this may require constant touch-ups or changes down the line.
  • Koebner Response - Vitiligo can often be triggered by trauma to the skin, such as bruising, cuts, and wounds. Tattooing is a medical procedure that can cause extensive trauma to the skin, using needles to puncture the skin multiple times. This may trigger a vitiligo response called Koebner Response.

Our Final Thoughts

If you have spoken to your medical professional and also considered that the trauma of a tattoo might trigger your vitiligo to become active again, you are otherwise totally safe to get a tattoo if you have vitiligo. You need to assess whether the potential Koebner Response is worth the risk of getting inked, and also relate this risk to the purpose and placement of your tattoo in the first place.

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The information contained on Tattify is intended for informational and educational purposes only. None of the statements made on this website are intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any disease, infection or illness. Please consult a healthcare practitioner before using tattoo/skincare products that may interfere with medications or known conditions. This article is provided with the understanding that it does not constitute medical or professional advice or services. If you are looking for help with your condition, please seek out a qualified medical practitioner.

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