Phototherapy for Vitiligo

Vitiligo is a disease wherein patients develop white patches of varying sizes on the skin in different locations. Vitiligo occurs due to the destruction of melanocytes (cells responsible for skin pigmentation). These cells are no longer there to produce melanin. Once the cells are destroyed those areas of the skin become depigmented turning white.

Treatment is the repigmentation of the patches. The course and final outcome of the condition can however not be predicted. Various types of treatments including medical, surgical, or a combination of both exist.


Types of Phototherapy

Phototherapy is one of the treatment modalities for vitiligo. It can be of the following types:

1. Narrowband UVB (NBUVB) Phototherapy

NBUVB is the latest and promising therapy. 
A specific wavelength of 311 nm is delivered in a chamber. It is safe and effective for both adults and children. A minimum number of 15 - 20 sessions, 2-3 times a week, are needed for favorable results.

2. Targeted NB UVB Phototherapy 

In this, a 311 nm beam is targeted only on affected areas. It is the treatment of choice when less than 30% of body surface area is involved. It is also the best option for children due to the very low cumulative dosage of radiation and the avoidance of unnecessary exposure of uninvolved skin.

3. Monochromatic Excimer Laser

It is the delivery of a 308 nm wavelength of light using xenon chloride gas to the skin without photothermal effects. As the laser energy is delivered through a handpiece, there is a negligible effect on the surrounding skin.

4. UVA/UVB Phototherapy

This allows delivery of 300-380 nm wavelength spectrum of light (UVB and UVA 1) to treat stubborn vitiligo patches.