Background: NB-UVB phototherapy is a very important modality in treating vitiligo but the treatment course usually exceeds 1 year. Skin ablation with mechanical dermabrasion with 5Fluorouracil (5FU) was introduced to treat vitiligo in 1983. This was modified replacing the mechanical dermabrasion by erbium-YAG (ER:YAG) laser ablation and resulted in better prognosis in periungual vitiligo.
Purpose: In the present study, we are exploring the effect of the use of ER:YAG laser skin ablation and application of 5FU on the outcome of short-term NB-UVB therapy for patients with non-segmental vitiligo (NSV).
Methods: This study included 50 adult patients with a total of 65-paired symmetrical NSV lesions in different body parts. One side was treated with ER:YAG laser ablation, followed by 5FU application before simultaneous NB-UVB therapy of both sides for a maximum period of 4 months. The outcome was then evaluated both qualitatively and quantitatively.
Results: The overall response to therapy was better using the combination therapy. Fifty patients (78.1%) experienced a moderate-marked repigmentation response in the combination group compared with 23.4% in the mono-therapy group. The response was significantly higher when using the combination therapy in different body parts (P value is <0.05), except for feet lesions, which were better but not statistically significant (P value=0.15). Tolerable pain during ablation or at sites of 5FU application was reported in all cases. Transient hyperpigmentation occurred in 30% of cases and 3.1% of lesions healed by a transient slate blue color. Half of the treated periungual lesions showed a temporary tiny brownish spot on nail plates and Köebnerization was not detected in any patient.
Conclusion: We concluded that prior use of ER:YAG laser skin ablation, followed by 5FU application before NB-UVB phototherapy for vitiligo is a safe and tolerable technique that improves the outcome of short-term NB-UVB therapy and is expected to increase patient compliance.