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Photo(chemo) therapy for vitiligo

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Vitiligo has always been difficult to treat. Several modes of treatment are available, but the therapeutic effect varies greatly, and rarely does one achieve complete repigmentation. One of the most efficient treatment methods is photo(chemo) therapy. Already in ancient Egypt, vitiligo lesions were treated with extracts of the Ammi maius plant followed by exposure to the sun. This principle is at the basis of the photochemotherapy or PUVA therapy, whereby UVA irradiations are given 2 h after administration of 8-methoxypsoralen, a photosensitizer. Another efficient treatment form is UVB phototherapy, particularly narrow-band UVB. This not only gives good therapeutic results but also has the advantage of eliminating the need for a photosensitizer. All these treatments must be applied for many months to be efficient. They can also be combined with various surgical skin-grafting techniques. A newer approach is targeted UVB phototherapy, whereby xenon-chloride lasers or monochromatic excimer light is used.

Keywords: PUVA; excimer light; grafts; narrow-band UVB; vitiligo

Document Type: Review Article


Affiliations: Photodermatology Unit, University Hospital St Raphael, Kapucijnenvoer 33, 3000 Leuven, Belgium

Publication date: 2003-02-01

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