Vitiligo is a problem with the cells in the skin that make pigment. This causes white patches that may appear on any part of the body, including the hair, eyes, and mouth.
There is no cure. It can be managed by reducing the appearance of the patches. This can be done with skin creams and phototherapy. Some people turn to natural therapies to further reduce the appearance of patches. They are often used with phototherapy or sunlight.
May Be Effective
These therapies may be effective:
- Antioxidants —alpha lipoic acid, vitamins C and E, selenium, polyunsaturated fatty acids alone or in combination with each other A1-A3
- Traditional Chinese herbal medicine in combination with phototherapy G1
- Ginkgo biloba is a tree whose extract is used to improve health.N1, N2
- Khellin is derived from the Ammi visnaga plant.B1-B3
- L-phenylalanine (an amino acid) used with phototherapy M1
- Piperine (a compound from black pepper) combined with narrowband UVB D1
- Turmeric is a spice.H1
- Vitamin B12 and folic acid C1-C2
- Yiqiqubai granule and 308-nm excimer laser F1
May Not Be Effective
Tacalcitol (a synthetic vitamin D) and sunlight exposure may not ease symptoms.L1
Not Enough Data to Assess
Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.
Herbs and Supplements to Be Used With Caution
Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse.
A1. Dell'Anna ML, Mastrofrancesco A, Sala R, et al. Antioxidants and narrow band-UVB in the treatment of vitiligo: a double-blind placebo controlled trial. Clin Exp Dermatol. 2007;32(6):631-636.
A2. Elgoweini M, Nour El Din N. Response of vitiligo to narrowband ultraviolet B and oral antioxidants. J Clin Pharmacol. 2009;49(7):852-855.
A3. Tsiskarishvili NI, Katsitadze A, Tsiskarishvili NV, Tsiskarishvili T, Chitanava L. Efficacy of combined use of antioxidative and phototherapy in the treatment of vitiligo. Georgian Med News. 2016;(Issue):52-57.
B1. Orecchia G, Perfetti L. Photochemotherapy with topical khellin and sunlight in vitiligo. Dermatology. 1992;184(2):120-123.
B2. Hofer A, Kerl H, Wolf P. Long-term results in the treatment of vitiligo with oral khellin plus UVA. Eur J Dermatol. 2001;11(3):225-229.
B3. Fenniche S, Zaouak A, Tanfous AB, Jrad M, Hammami H. Successful treatment of refractory vitiligo with a combination of khellin and 308-nm excimer lamp: an open-label, 1-year prospective study. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2017 Dec 27. [Epub ahead of print].
Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid
C1. Juhlin L, Olsson MJ. Improvement of vitiligo after oral treatment with vitamin B12 and folic acid and the importance of sun exposure. Acta Derm Venereol. 1997;77(6):460-462.
C2. Tjioe M, Gerritsen MJ, Juhlin L, van de Kerkhof PC. Treatment of vitiligo vulgaris with narrow band UVB (311 nm) for one year and the effect of addition of folic acid and vitamin B12. Acta Derm Venereol. 2002;82(5):369-372.
D1. Shafiee A, Hoormand M, et al. The effect of topical piperine combined with narrowband UVB on vitiligo treatment: A clinical trial study. Phytother Res. 2018 Sep;32(9):1812-1817.
E1. Watabe A, Yamasaki K, et al. Efficacy of oral cholecalciferol on rhododendrol-induced vitiligo: A blinded randomized clinical trial. J Dermatol. 2018 Apr;45(4):456-462.
F1. Zhang C, Zhou L, et al. A combination of Yiqiqubai granule and 308-nm excimer laser in treatment of segmental vitiligo: a prospective study of 233 patients. J Dermatolog Treat. 2017 Nov;28(7):668-671.
Chinese Herbal Medicine
G1. Chen YJ, Chen YY, et al. Oral Chinese herbal medicine in combination with phototherapy for vitiligo: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Complement Ther Med. 2016 Jun;26:21-27.
H1. Vaughn AR, Branum A, et al. Effects of Turmeric (Curcuma longa) on Skin Health: A Systematic Review of the Clinical Evidence. Phytother Res. 2016 Aug;30(8):1243-1264.
Combination of Oral α-lipoic Acid, Betamethasone Injection, and NB-UVB
I1. Li L, Li L, et al. Triple-combination treatment with oral α-lipoic acid, betamethasone injection, and NB-UVB for non-segmental progressive vitiligo. J Cosmet Laser Ther. 2016 Jun;18(3):182-185.
J1. Hosseinkhani A, Montaseri H, et al. A Randomized Double Blind Clinical Trial on a Sabgh Formulation for Patients With Vitiligo. J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2015 Oct;20(4):254-258.
K1. Whitton ME, Pinart M, et al. Interventions for vitiligo. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Feb 24;(2):CD003263.
K2. Chan MF, Chua TL. The effectiveness of therapeutic interventions on quality of life for vitiligo patients: a systematic review. Int J Nurs Pract. 2012 Aug;18(4):396-405.
Tacalcitol with Sunlight Exposure
L1. Rodríguez-Martín M, García Bustínduy M, et al. Randomized, double-blind clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy of topical tacalcitol and sunlight exposure in the treatment of adult nonsegmental vitiligo. Br J Dermatol. 2009 Feb;160(2):409-414.
L-phenylalanine Used with Phototherapy
M1. Szczurko O, Boon HS. A systematic review of natural health product treatment for vitiligo. BMC Dermatol. 2008 May 22;8:2.
N1. Szczurko O, Boon HS. A systematic review of natural health product treatment for vitiligo. BMC Dermatol. 2008 May 22;8:2.
N2. Parsad D, Pandhi R, et al. Effectiveness of oral Ginkgo biloba in treating limited, slowly spreading vitiligo. Clin Exp Dermatol. 2003 May;28(3):285-287.
Polypodium Leucotomos and Narrow Band UVB Light
O1. Middelkamp-Hup MA, Bos JD, et al. Treatment of vitiligo vulgaris with narrow-band UVB and oral Polypodium leucotomos extract: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2007 Aug;21(7):942-950.
Last reviewed December 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC Last Updated: 6/30/2020