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Int J Dermatol. 2008 Apr;47(4):402-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-4632.2008.03356.x.

Dihydroxyacetone: a safe camouflaging option in vitiligo.

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Division of Dermatology, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University, 270 Rama VI Road, Bangkok 10400, Thailand.



Most treatment protocols for vitiligo usually do not result in complete repigmentation. Therefore, cosmetically acceptable camouflage, low cost and easy to handle alternatives are warranted.


To evaluate the efficacy of low-cost self-tanner available in the Thai market in normal subjects with skin types III, IV, and V, and the efficacy for camouflage of 6% dihydroxyacetone (DHA) cream in the treatment of vitiligo on exposed areas of Asian skin.


The study was divided into two parts. Part 1 is a prospective study of 15 healthy volunteers using three different DHA creams which were available in the Thai market with concentrations of 3.5%, 4.2%, and 5%. Part 2 was a retrospective study of 20 patients suffering from vitiligo affecting the face and/or hands and feet who were treated with 6% DHA. The data were collected through direct examination, telephone interview, face-to-face interview, and photographs.


In healthy volunteers, we found that color matching was achieved by using a higher concentration of DHA in darker-skin subjects. Most of the vitiligo patients (88.9%) reported moderate to marked satisfaction with the cosmetic results of 6% DHA cream.


Dihydroxyacetone offers a safe and effective therapeutic option for recalcitrant vitiligo. Dark-skin subjects need a higher concentration of DHA cream than lighter-skin subjects.

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