Background Complete depigmentation may occur, albeit rarely, in patients with universal vitiligo. They usually have one or more pigmented patches that remain normal, most frequently over the malar area of the face and dorsal aspects of forearms. Total repigmentation may not occur in these patients, even after receiving 150 session of PUVA therapy alone or in conjunction with other medical or surgical procedures, and there is possibility of recurrence after cessation of therapy. These patients are usually more interested in depigmentation rather than trying for repigmentation.
Objective Because of the relatively high sensitivity of melanocytes to cryotherapy and the possibility of isomorphic phenomenon in vitiligo patients, removal of the remaining normally pigmented patches was attempted in patients with universal vitiligo using cryotherapy.
Method Five volunteer patients with universal vitiligo were chosen, all of whom wished to have their pigmented patches removed. In all five patients a small area was tested first in order to assure the patients of what the procedure involved and to show its likely result. All pigmented areas were then treated to 1–3 sessions of cryotherapy using a closed contact CO2 cryogun, with 4–6-week intervals.
Results Complete and permanent depigmentation was achieved in all five patients with excellent cosmetic results and no complications or scarring.
Conclusion Cryotherapy is a cost effective, non-complicating, easily available procedure which can be used for depigmentation of normally pigmented patches in patients with universal vitiligo.