Dihydroxyacetone

Self-tanning products may be helpful to camouflage vitiligo patches in some patients. Self-tanning products commonly contain dihydroxyacetone (DHA), a safe and relatively inexpensive way to reduce the visual impact of one’s vitiligo. Concentrations are usually between 3-12% with higher concentrations required for darker surrounding skin.

DHA is a sugar that binds t amino acids at the outer surface of the skin inducing a colour change from yellow to brown giving the skin a tanned appearance. DHA dyes are non-greasy nor gritty and hence are easy to apply. The application is repeated until the desired endpoint is achieved. Skin darkening may last 7-10 days as the amount of DHA pigment in the skin reduces with normal skin exfoliation.

One of the disadvantages of DHA is the difficulty in obtaining a good colour match although applying a cosmetic camouflage cream over the top of the DHA may improve the colour match.

Rarely allergic or irritant contact dermatitis may develop from application of DHA.