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Giornale Italiano di Dermatologia e Venereologia 2010 February;145(1):57-78


language: English

Topical treatment and combination approaches for vitiligo: new insights, new developments

Hossani-Madani A. R., Halder R. M.

Department of Dermatology, Howard University College of Medicine, Washington, DC, USA


Despite much research done involving elucidation of the pathogenesis of vitiligo, a precise cause is still not known. Prevalent hypotheses include the autoimmune, genetic, neural, self-destruction, growth factor deficiency, viral, and convergence theories, which have served as the basis for treatment formulation. Topical therapies have been a mainstay of vitiligo treatment, with or without phototherapy. Topical treatments used in the treatment of vitiligo include steroids, calcineurin inhibitors, vitamin D analogues, pseudocatalase, and depigmenting agents. Combination therapies are used to improve the success rate of repigmentation. In this article, we have examined randomized controlled trials utilizing topical treatments used as monotherapy or combination therapy. Although psoralen and khellin can be used as topical agents, used in conjunction with UV radiation, we have not included them in the review due to their inability to be used as monotherapy. We have also excluded less used or ineffective topical agents, such as melagenina, topical phenylalanine, topical L-DOPA, coal tar, anacarcin forte oil and topical minoxidil. According to current guidelines, a less than two month trial of potent or very potent topical corticosteroids or topical calcineurin inhibitors may be used for therapy of localized vitiligo (<20% skin surface area). Combinations of topical corticosteroids with excimer laser and UVA seem to be more effective than steroids alone. Pseudocatalase plus NB-UVB does not seem to be more effective than placebo with NB-UVB. Combinations of vitamin D analogues have varied efficacy based on which type is used and the type of UV light. Efficacy of calcineurin inhibitor combinations also vary based on the type used and UV light combined, with tacrolimus being more effective with excimer laser. Pimecrolimus has been effective with NB-UVB and excimer laser on facial lesions, and microdermabrasion on localized areas.

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