Treatment of vitiligo using targeted UVB-Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)- phototherapy: evaluation of variables affecting therapeutic success

Eur J Dermatol. 2014 Sep-Oct;24(5):551-9. doi: 10.1684/ejd.2014.2398.


Background: Targeted UVB intense pulsed light (IPL)-phototherapy has gained interest for repigmentation of vitiligo as it allows selective treatment, sparing the surrounding skin. However, optimal treatment frequency and duration are not known.

Objectives: We compared the efficacy and safety of two treatment protocols, weekly and every two weeks, for a maximum of 12 months. Variables affecting treatment response were evaluated.

Patients & methods: 22 patients (16 female, 6 male; aged 15 - 67 years) with generalised vitiligo were evaluated retrospectively. UVB-IPL had been administered weekly (13 patients, group A), or every second week (9 patients, group B). In cases of no response, treatment stopped after 6 months. Regimentation was evaluated qualitatively and quantitatively.

Results: After 6 months, 12/13 patients (A), 3/9 patients (B) showed repigmentation. Due to lack of success, treatment was stopped after 6 months in 1 group A patient and 6/9 group B patients. After 12 months, lesions on the face and trunk in group A showed a mean of 70 ± 27% and 60 ± 29% repigmentation, respectively. Moderate to good repigmentation was seen in 78% of group A patients on the ulnar region on the forearms and the shins. Side effects were minimal. Treatment success depended on treatment frequency, number of treatments and the anatomical site of lesions.

Conclusions: UVB-IPL phototherapy seems to be effective and well-tolerated in non-segmental vitiligo. A treatment frequency of weekly intervals rather than every two weeks appears preferable. Our observations will help in designing a sufficiently powered prospective clinical trial to test this hypothesis.

Keywords: IPL; UVB-phototherapy; intense pulsed light; targeted phototherapy; vitiligo.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intense Pulsed Light Therapy / adverse effects
  • Intense Pulsed Light Therapy / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pigmentation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultraviolet Therapy / adverse effects
  • Ultraviolet Therapy / methods*
  • Vitiligo / therapy*
  • Young Adult