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Medically reviewed by Dr. Samuel Sarmiento, M.D., MPH on August 3, 2023

Insights from a recent study show the effectiveness and safety of narrowband UV-B phototherapy for children with vitiligo. If you’re a parent or caregiver of a child with vitiligo, this may offer some helpful information on this treatment option.

  • Narrowband UV-B phototherapy can be an effective treatment for children with vitiligo.
  • Children with nonsegmental or widespread vitiligo may see improved or resolved symptoms with this therapy.
  • Side effects can occur, such as sunburn and blistering, but no scarring or skin cancer was reported.
  • Home phototherapy is comparably safe, potentially reducing costs and treatment burdens.

Vitiligo, a skin condition that results in the loss of skin color in patches, can be especially challenging for children to manage. One of the first-line treatments is narrowband UV-B phototherapy (nbUV-B) a type of ultraviolet light. A study published in The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology explored its effectiveness and safety in children.

What the Study Says about Narrowband UV-B Phototherapy for Your Child

Children with nonsegmental vitiligo, where the loss of skin color occurs on many parts of the body, experienced improved or even resolved symptoms when treated with nbUV-B. The treatment was generally well-tolerated by the young patients. Some children experienced minor side effects like sunburn (29% of patients) and blistering (3.5% of patients). However, there were no reported cases of scarring or skin cancer over an average follow-up time of 20 months, and with appropriate counseling, children were able to continue with the treatment despite these side effects.

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Considering Home Phototherapy for Your Child

Interestingly, the study found that home nbUV-B therapy could be a viable option for children with vitiligo. Around 46% of the children in the study used home phototherapy, and it was noted to be safe. Moreover, the presence of side effects was lower in children receiving home therapy, further establishing its safety. Home phototherapy could reduce the treatment burdens and make managing vitiligo more convenient for your child.

What This Means for Your Child’s Vitiligo Treatment

This study supports the use of nbUV-B phototherapy as an effective and well-tolerated treatment for children’s vitiligo. In addition, it encourages consideration of home phototherapy to decrease treatment costs and burdens. It is, however, important to remember that each child’s case is unique, and what works best will depend on individual circumstances and clinical advice. Further research is needed to explore responses in different vitiligo subtypes and the effectiveness of home phototherapy.

Source:

Garza-Mayers, A. C., Paquette, G. M., Harris, J. E., & Wiss, K. (2023). Narrowband ultraviolet B phototherapy in pediatric vitiligo: A retrospective study. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 89(1), 135–136. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaad.2023.02.010