According to WebMD, skin-bleaching agents and topical acids can cause tattoos to fade. They may need to be applied continuously for six months to be effective and may cause visible damage (scarring) to the treated skin. Sunlight, particularly ultraviolet light, is well known to fade tattoos. Skin Artist writes that tanning beds can accelerate the fading of tattoos but provides no information on how many hours of exposure are necessary.
Rick Barker suggests applying one application of topical trichloroacetic acid to the tattoo approximately every two months for up to six applications. The bright colors fade first. Professional tattoos may take up to a year to show visible fading of black ink in response to acid treatments.
Rick Barker also describes a variety of other methods that can be used to fade tattoos. Incomplete laser removal treatments fades tattoos. Tattooing an acid or hydrogen peroxide over the top of the tattoo (Variot tattooing) fades tattoos. Applying hydroquinone creams to the tattoo may cause fading but may also cause cancer and a skin disease called exogenous ochronosis. Hydroquinone creams are not sold in many countries due to concerns about their safety, and Rick Barker expresses some concern about their efficacy in fading tattoos as well.