March 05, 2016
1 min read

Researcher discusses new phototherapy standards for vitiligo

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WASHINGTON — Recent phototherapy standards for treating vitiligo were part of a symposium presentation at the American Academy of Dermatology Annual Meeting.

Iltefat Hamzavi, MD, senior staff physician, Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, and Hamzavi Dermatology, reviewed the different treatment options for vitiligo, including topical, phototherapy and oral treatments.

Ilefat Hamzavi, MD

Iltefat Hamzavi

“The big component [of the presentation] was that the Vitiligo Working Group has come up with phototherapy standards,” Hamzavi told “This should really help standardize treatments and explain how to administer treatments across different countries and regions.”

The Vitiligo Working Group (VWG) is a physician-led organization working to improve lives of people living with vitiligo. It was established by Hamzavi and Henry M. Lim, MD, at Henry Ford Hospital.

The VWG recently came up with recommendations to 15 questions regarding vitiligo, including, “What is the minimum age for children to start treatment with narrow band UVB phototherapy?” The group recommends children aged 7 to 10 years, who are able to stand in a booth with either their eyes closed or wearing goggles.

Recommendations for optimal weekly narrowband UVB treatment in patients with vitiligo was three times a week, with twice weekly acceptable.

Hamzavi also reviewed other treatment options.

Topical treatments reviewed include corticosteroids and calcineurin inhibitors.

Systemic treatments, which Hamzavi reported should be considered in rapidly progressive disease included azathioprine (Imuran), which prevents DNA replication, and oral corticosteroids.

He also reviewed combination therapies, including tacrolimus and class 2-3 topical steroids in addition to narrowband UVB and excimer laser.

“[The therapies] are very effective as long as we counsel properly,” Hamzavi said. “But, they take a lot longer than the exact same treatments than other disease states. … If you learn how to counsel and do it long enough you get better results.” – by Bruce Thiel


Hamzavi I, S006. Vitiligo. Presented at: American Academy of Dermatology Annual Meeting; March 4-8; Washington, DC.

Disclosure: Hamzavi reports financial ties with Abbott Laboratories, Amgen, Clinuvel, Daavlin Company, Dow Pharmaceutical Sciences, Estee Lauder, Ferndale Laboratories, Galderma Laboratories, Microdermis Corp. and Pfizer.