Protect your skin from the sun

Everyone who has vitiligo can benefit from sun protection. Here’s why:

  • Skin that has lost its color sunburns very easily.
  • A bad sunburn can worsen vitiligo.
  • If you have fair skin, avoiding a tan usually makes the vitiligo barely noticeable.
  • If you chose to treat vitiligo with depigmentation, that is removing the remaining color from your skin, the sun can cause spots of color to form on your skin. You will need to depigment your skin again to remove these spots of color. 

To protect your skin from the sun, dermatologists recommend:

1. Use sunscreen

Generously apply sunscreen every day to skin that will not be covered by clothing. Use a sunscreen that offers:

  • UVA/UVB protection (label may say “broad spectrum”)
  • A sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more
  • Water resistance

2. Apply sunscreen every day

Be sure to apply it at least 15 minutes before going outdoors.

3. Reapply sunscreen when outdoors

If you will be outdoors, be sure to reapply the sunscreen:

  • Every 2 hours, even on cloudy days.
  • After being in water or sweating.

4. Wear clothing that protects your skin from the sun

Skin covered by clothing that has a high SPF does not need sunscreen. Not all clothing offers high SPF. A long-sleeve denim shirt has an SPF of about 1,700. A white t-shirt only has an SPF 7, and a green t-shirt has about an SPF 10.

You can boost the SPF of clothing, by adding a product that increases the SPF of clothing during the wash cycle. You add this product to the wash machine. The increase in SPF is usually good for about 20 washings.

5. Seek shade

This is especially important when your shadow is shorter than you are. That’s when the sun’s damaging rays are at their strongest and you are likely to sunburn.