Is UVB the best treatment for vitiligo?
One summer, years ago, I did a personal experiment to see if the sun could repigment my vitiligo. Each day I sat in the sun for 15-30 min and every day brought new dark freckling. It was very exciting to realize that my skin wasn’t unable to ever repigment, there was just something stopping the natural process. By the end of the summer, the patches on my hands and face were almost all filled in, but as the weather got cold, limiting the time to expose my skin to the sun’s rays, the pretty new pigmented skin faded.
A couple of years later, the makers of the XTRAC Excimer Laser contacted me through this site and asked if I would undergo treatment and write about my results. I had already seen this concept work through my own experiment, and I happily agreed to be their test subject, so to speak.
The whole experience was wonderful. I met a group of wonderful people who work at the dermatologist’s office where I received the treatments and, best of all, I saw positive results in the approx. 18 months of visits.
For the first 14 months I went in 2 times per week; pigmentation occurred, but it was very slow. One day I asked the dermatologist, Dr. Ring, if I could come 3 times per week to test if that would make a difference. It did. The pigmentation was faster and darker. At the 18 month mark Dr. Ring decided that we should stop treatments for a while so as to not over-expose my skin to the risk of skin cancer.
As the weeks passed, most of the newly pigmented areas on my face and hands faded back to a milky white color; however, the pigment has stayed on my elbows, knees, and shins.
My overall results of each treatment
The sun did a great job at triggering my skin to repigment, but it also tanned my already pigmented skin. So even though I was thrilled to see my the white patches filling in, I was less than happy with the fact that the areas that were still white became even more obvious. This actually made me more self-conscious about my vitiligo. True to the saying, “It’s gonna get worse before it gets better”.
Tanning booths (and yes, I’ve tried this, too) gave the same results as lying in the sun, but the risk of skin cancer was greater.
The XTRAC laser gave great results, when the treatments were frequent. The best selling point is that the instrument they use (see the above photo) exposes only the vitiligo effected areas to the UVB rays and since the pigmented skin isn’t darkened as well, the white patches are not accentuated.
The bottom line
The sun is free and right outside your front door.
Tanning booths are inexpensive, but you need to find a place that has UVA only beds. UVB, bad. UVA, better.
The XTRAC laser treatments may be offered through your health insurance, so you only have to deal with the co-pay, but if it isn’t covered, the treatments are very expensive. I have heard ranges from $100-$300 per session…and since the treatments really do require 2-3 sessions per week, this can add up quickly.
The Proof is in the pudding- not literally, though 🙂
Whenever anyone leaves a comment on this site about something they have done to ‘cure’ their vitiligo I always email to ask them for photos. Here are some of mine. sadly, I can’t find the exact photos I want at this moment, but I’ll upload them later:
I did these in black and white so that the newly pigmented areas would be more prominent.
If you’ve tried any of these methods to repigment, tell us about it.[ad#post-bottom]