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Finding the right treatment for vitiligo can be a process. One study looked at two treatments combined with an ultraviolet light therapy called NB-UVB. Both treatments showed promise, with some areas of the body responding better than others. 

  • Both tacrolimus 0.1% ointment and calcipotriol/betamethasone dipropionate showed promising results when combined with ultraviolet light therapy for vitiligo treatment.
  • By 6 months, both treatments showed improved skin pigmentation, but there wasn’t a large difference between the two.
  • Different body sites respond differently to treatment, with the face showing the best improvement.
  • Starting treatment earlier might lead to better results.

For those who may not be familiar, vitiligo is a skin condition where some patches of skin lose their pigment, creating white spots. It’s believed to be caused by a combination of factors, like genetics and immune system reactions. The good news? There are treatments available to help bring some of that pigment back. 

One such method is NB-UVB phototherapy, a type of ultraviolet light therapy that, when combined with certain ointments or creams, can produce even better results. If you or a loved one has vitiligo, it can be helpful to know your options.

Findings from a Recent Study

Researchers sought to understand how two different treatments stacked up when combined with NB-UVB phototherapy. Their findings were published in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment. In the study, 41 adults with vitiligo were divided into two groups. Both groups had three sessions per week of phototherapy. In addition:

  • One group received calcipotriol/betamethasone cream.
  • The other group received tacrolimus 0.1% ointment.

The group that used the calcipotriol/betamethasone cream experienced an increase in their pigmented skin area of 35.4% after 3 months to 54.7% after 6 months. The tacrolimus group experienced an increase from 32.2% to 45.6% in the same timeframe. If you’re considering treatment options, it’s heartening to know that both paths can lead to positive outcomes.

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Different Body Parts, Different Results

One finding from the study was that not all body parts responded the same way. For instance, the face showed the most improvement, while hands and feet showed the least. If you’re starting treatment, it might be helpful to set expectations based on which areas of your body are affected.

The Earlier, the Better?

The study hinted at something many of us might suspect: starting treatment earlier could lead to better results. This isn’t to say that those who’ve had vitiligo for a longer time won’t see improvement, but the results might be more pronounced in newer cases. If you’ve recently noticed vitiligo patches, it might be worth discussing treatment options with your dermatologist sooner rather than later.

Wrapping It Up

Whether you’re battling vitiligo yourself or supporting someone who is, finding effective treatments can be a journey. However, there may be a silver lining: both tacrolimus and calcipotriol/betamethasone, when combined with NB-UVB, may lead to significant skin improvements. As with all treatments, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional and weigh the pros and cons for your situation.


Alshiyab, D., Al‐Qarqaz, F., Ba-Shammakh, S., Al-Fakih, A., Altawalbeh, A., Alsheyab, S. M., Sarakbi, D., & Muhaidat, J. (2023). Comparison of the efficacy of tacrolimus 0.1% ointment vs calcipotriol/betamethasone in combination with NBUVB in treatment of vitiligo. Journal of Dermatological Treatment, 34(1). https://doi.org/10.1080/09546634.2023.2252119