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How Long Does Phototherapy Take For Vitiligo? Explains Dr Monica

While the chronic skin disorder has no definite cure, several interventions are available to treat patients with vitiligo.

Written by Tavishi Dogra |Updated : January 10, 2023 2:53 PM IST

Treatment Of Vitiligo With Phototherapy: Vitiligo is a chronic condition caused by the lack of melanin a pigment in the skin resulting in pale white patches on the skin. Dr Monica Chahar, Chief Dermatologist & Director, Skin Decor, Dwarka New Delhi shares that vitiligo is an autoimmune skin disorder that can affect any skin area.

  • The condition causes white patches on the skin due to a lack of melanin a pigment. The patches are particularly noticeable in people with darker skin tones. Vitiligo symptoms include discolouration inside your mouth, hair, or retina. The spread of vitiligo is unpredictable; sometimes, it affects only one side of the body or spreads through the entire body.
  • Living with vitiligo can be a challenge, emotionally and psychologically. Though it is not contagious or life-threatening, vitiligo can shake your confidence, lower your self-esteem and impair your quality of life. Fortunately, treatments are available for vitiligo that reduce the visibility of patches, restoring your self-assurance and enjoyment of social gatherings.

What To Know About Phototherapy Treatment For Vitiligo?

While the chronic skin disorder has no definite cure, several interventions are available to treat patients with vitiligo. Phototherapy, including psoralen UV-A (PUVA) and narrowband UV-B (NBUVB), are known and effective treatment modalities for the disease. UV radiation triggers the production of vitamin D in the body and decreases inflammation which can result in the re-pigmentation of the skin. Besides, it also causes the growth of melanocytes - cells that produce the pigment bringing back the skin's original colour. Also, the UV rays suppress the immune system and prevent the occurrence of new skin patches.

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Worried That UV Therapy May Harm Your Skin? Don't Be!

  • Phototherapy is safe in the right hands. However, not every patient is an ideal candidate for phototherapy, and its use depends on the patient's age, overall health, and body surface area affected. The two primary modalities of phototherapy, PUVA and NB UVB therapy, are discussed below.
  • Psoralen UV-A (PUVA) light therapy combines topical/oral medicine (Psoralen) plus ultraviolet A (PUVA) to enhance re-pigmentation. Psoralens increase the susceptibility of melanocytes to UVA light therapy. UVA light penetrates deeper into skin tissues. While it is effective in re-pigmentation, there can be a few side effects which can be discussed with a dermatologist.
  • Narrow-band ultraviolet B (NB-UVB) therapy (311-313 nm) is more widely used today and does not require supplemental medications. The treatment usually requires 2- 3 sessions weekly, with a total of 50 60 sessions. The time for the results to be visible vary according to how long you have been affected by the condition and how much of your body is affected by the disease.

Usually, it takes two to three months to see results, and you can see pronounced repigmentation after consistent treatment.

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