Narrowband UVB (NB-UVB) is the most widely prescribed type of phototherapy for vitiligo.1 NB-UVB may be a first-line treatment for generalized vitiligo.2 One of the oldest vitiligo treatments, NB-UVB slows the overactive growth of skin cells by repeatedly exposing skin to an artificial UVB light source.
For generalized vitiligo, NB-UVB produces better pigmentation than Psoralen + UVA (PUVA) phototherapy) with fewer side effects.2 For maximum effectiveness, NB-UVB is often prescribed in combination with topical Protopic (Tacrolimus) or vitamin D analogs such as Calcipotriene.3
NB-UVB is considered safe for children and pregnant or breastfeeding women. It can be performed in a clinic or at home with smaller, handheld devices.2
How do I take it?
For vitiligo, NB-UVB is conducted two to three times a week for just a few minutes, with exposure gradually increased over time.1 Treatment can range from three to 24 months, with a three-month resting period after one year to minimize annual UVB dose.4
Protective goggles and groin protection (underwear or towel) must be worn during treatment. Face protection is also recommended to prevent skin aging.1
NB-UVB for vitiligo is safe when administered correctly. Mild sunburn is a common side effect, generally experienced after eight hours of treatment. Everyone who undergoes NB-UVB will develop some degree of tan.1
Severe burns, hyperpigmentation, and skin malignancies are rare.3 Although the long-term risk of NB-UVB is unknown, research shows that it is less risky than PUVA.5
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