SolRx UVB Home Phototherapy Treatment for Vitiligo

A naturally effective treatment for skin repigmentation

Your autoimmune system is betraying you.

What is Vitiligo?

Vitiligo is a non-contagious autoimmune disease for which there is no known cure. Vitiligo causes localized skin depigmentation resulting in starkly white irregular skin patches (lesions) to randomly appear within healthy darker skin, and it can affect any part of the body including the face, arms, legs, genitals and scalp. Vitiligo affects roughly 1% of the world’s population1 and occurs in all skin types and in all races. With vitiligo, it is believed that an overactive immune system improperly attacks the skin’s pigment producing cells called melanocytes and destroys their ability to produce melanin, the skin’s colorant and its natural protection from sunlight. Vitiligo does not produce pain or itching but without pigment the lesions may be at increased risk of skin cancer.

Treatment for Vitiligo
vitilgo getic markers treatment for vitiligo

Although the exact cause for vitiligo is unknown, most theories suggest a genetic predisposition2,3 component combined with external factors such as lifestyle and stress4. Indeed, vitiligo is usually triggered by a stressful event, such as a divorce, job loss, or strong negative impression. Vitiligo can deeply affect the patient’s self-esteem and quality of life, with the white spots often being more disturbing for the patient than for the people around them. In many cases the disease is self-perpetuating, as the vitiligo spots cause further patient stress and further disease progression. Those with darker skin may be more profoundly affected emotionally due to the greater visual contrast between the white patches and their healthy dark skin. In some cultures those with vitiligo are unfairly treated very harshly.

There are Two Types of Vitiligo:

Non-Segmental Vitiligo

Non-Segmental Vitiligo

Responds well to UVB-NB Phototherapy

Non-Segmental vitiligo accounts for about 90% of cases and affects both sides of the body somewhat symmetrically, with lesions of similar size and shape appearing on both left and right sides of the body. For example, if a spot develops on the left shoulder, a spot will also likely develop on the right shoulder. If the lesions are close enough to the center of the body, they will merge into a single large lesion. Non-segmental vitiligo usually continues to spread to other skin areas over the years. When repigmented, non-segmental vitiligo may reappear, especially for those under constant stress. Non-segmental vitiligo is somewhat easier to repigment than segmental vitiligo.

Segmental Vitiligo

Segmental Vitiligo

Responds well to UVB-NB Phototherapy

Segmental vitiligo accounts for about 10% of cases and affects only either the left or the right side of the body. Sometimes the hair originating in the lesions turns white as well. This type of vitiligo usually spreads quickly over 2 to 6 months and then stops progressing. Segmental vitiligo is relatively difficult to repigment, but if repigmentation can be achieved, it will likely never reappear.

What is the Treatment for Vitiligo?


Despite what some dare claim, there is no known cure for vitiligo. There are, however, several treatment options that can stop its progression and promote repigmentation, with full repigmentation possible for many patients. The most common treatment options are:


A low-cost, non-medical solution for vitiligo is to simply mask the affected areas with cosmetics, but that requires daily work, is messy, and does not address the underlying immune system problem, allowing the vitiligo to spread further.

Zombie Boy - Model for Dermablend campaign
psoriasis medication treatment for vitiligo

Topical Drugs

In many cases, the medical treatment of vitiligo starts with topical drugs; that is, immunosuppressant creams or ointments applied directly on “top” of the vitiligo lesions. The most common topical drugs for vitiligo include various strengths of steroids, and the topical calcineurin inhibitors (which are not specifically indicated for vitiligo, but are sometimes used under physician guidance). Often topical drugs start working well but then the skin’s response quickly fades in a process known as “tachyphylaxis”, which leads to ever-larger drug doses and ultimately to frustration for patients and doctors alike5. Furthermore, the topical drugs have potential side effects. For example, prolonged steroid use can cause skin atrophy (thinning of the skin), rosacea, and skin irritation. To improve results, topical drugs are sometimes used in conjunction with UVB-Narrowband phototherapy, but they should be applied only after the light treatment. An exception to this is pseudocatalase, which is applied to the skin first, and then activated using a low-dose of UVB-Narrowband. Pseudocatalase is a special topical cream that decreases hydrogen peroxide levels in the vitiligo lesions.

Photo-chemotherapy or PUVA

Back in the 1970’s a procedure known as PUVA6 was the most effective treatment available for vitiligo, and it is still used sometimes today. PUVA consists of two steps:

1) First photosensitizing the skin using a drug known generically as psoralen, which represents the “chemo” part of the procedure and also the “P” in PUVA. The psoralen can be taken orally in pill form, by soaking the skin in a psoralen bath, or by painting psoralen lotion onto only the vitiligo spots.

2) Once the psoralen has photosensitized the skin, which takes an hour or so, the skin is exposed to a known dose of UVA light (Philips /09), which represents the “photo” part of the procedure and also the “UVA” in PUVA.

Besides being messy and difficult to administer, PUVA has significant short-term and long-term side effects. The short-term side effects include dizziness, nausea, and the need to protect skin and eyes from ultraviolet exposure after treatment, until the psoralen wears off. The long-term side effects include a relatively high risk of skin cancer, so the total number of lifetime treatments is limited. PUVA should not be used for children.

Solarc UVA spectral curve treatment for vitiligo
Solarc 311nm spectral curve treatment for vitiligo

UVB-Narrowband Phototherapy 

Considered worldwide as the gold standard7 for vitiligo treatment UVB-Narrowband (UVB-NB) phototherapy is a light therapy procedure in which the patient’s skin is exposed only to the wavelengths of ultraviolet light medically studied to be the most beneficial (around 311 nanometers using Philips /01 medical fluorescent lamps), and usually without any drugs. Learn more below.

308 nm Excimer Laser Phototherapy

A close relative to Philips UVB-Narrowband with its 311 nm peak is the 308 nm excimer laser. These lasers have very high UVB light intensity and are useful for spot targeting small vitiligo lesions, but due to their size (typically a one inch square treatment area) they provide very little of the positive systemic effects compared to full-body UVB-Narrowband phototherapy. Excimer lasers are also very expensive and are found in only a few phototherapy clinics. UVB LEDs (light emitting diodes) are another emerging technology, but the cost-per-watt of UVB LEDs is still far more than fluorescent UVB lamps.

308nm laser treatment for vitiligo
no bleaching treatment for vitiligo

Chemical Skin Bleaching

The most radical and last-resort solution for vitiligo is permanent chemical skin depigmentation or “skin bleaching”. This solves the cosmetic problem but leaves the patient with very white skin and virtually no protection from light, forcing the skin to forevermore be protected using clothing and/or sunblock.  

How can UVB-Narrowband Phototherapy help?


 UVB-Narrowband light therapy promotes vitiligo repigmentation in at least four ways:

Boosts Vitamin D Levels

Increasing the patient’s Vitamin D levels, which is also best achieved by exposing as much skin area as possible to the UVB light.

Stimulates Melanocyte Stem Cells

Within the vitiligo lesions, by stimulating the melanocyte stem cells so that new melanocytes are created.

Stimulates Dormant Melanocytes

Within the vitiligo lesions, by stimulating the atrophied melanocytes so they produce melanin pigment again.

Suppresses Overactive Immune System

A general suppression of the patient’s overactive immune system, which is best achieved by exposing as much skin area as possible to the UVB light (and thus best done using a full body phototherapy device).

The objective for each phototherapy treatment is to take just enough UVB‑Narrowband so that within at least one vitiligo lesion a very mild pink color is observed four to twelve hours after the treatment.

The dose necessary for this is known as the Minimum Erythema Dose or “MED”. If the MED is exceeded, the skin will burn and reduce the treatment’s effectiveness. Once the MED has been established, the same dose is used for all subsequent treatments unless the results after treatment change, in which case the dose is adjusted accordingly. Some areas of the body such as hands and feet typically have a larger MED than other areas of the body, so for best results, after the primary full-body treatment is given, these areas should be targeted for a larger dose by providing extra treatment time to those areas only, for example by taking special body positions as shown. 

To determine a new patient’s MED and speed up the treatment schedule, some phototherapy clinics will use a MED patch testing device that allows various UVB-Narrowband doses be delivered to several small skin areas at the same time, and evaluate the results after four to twelve hours. Other clinics and the method preferred for SolRx home phototherapy, is to gradually build up the UVB-Narrowband dose using established treatment protocols (included in the SolRx User’s Manual) until MED is evident. For example, a SolRx 1780UVB-NB has an initial (starting) treatment time of 40 seconds per side with the skin eight to twelve inches from the light bulbs, and for each treatment that does not result in MED, the next treatment time is increased by 10 seconds. The patient is thus eased into the correct MED with minimal risk sunburn or an incorrect initial MED. The same protocol is used regardless of the patient’s primary skin type: light or dark.

HEX Profile SE treatment for vitiligo

For a SolRx 1780UVB-NB the final MED treatment time typically ranges from one to three minutes per side for segmental vitiligo, and two to four minutes per side for non-segmental vitiligo. Treatments are usually taken twice per week, but never on consecutive days. In some cases every second day has proved successful. During treatment the patient must wear the UV protective goggles supplied; unless the eyelids are affected, in which case treatment without goggles can proceed if the eyelids are held closed tightly (eyelid skin is thick enough to block any UV from entering the eye). Also, unless affected, males should cover both their penis and scrotum using a sock. Topical drugs, with the exception of pseudocatalase, should be applied only after UVB-Narrowband treatment to avoid light blockage, adverse skin reactions and possible UV deactivation of the drug. After several weeks of diligent treatments the patient’s MED time will be established and within a few months the first signs of repigmentation will appear in most patients. With patience and consistency many patients can achieve complete repigmentation, but it can take twelve to eighteen months or more, with six-foot high full-body devices proving more successful than smaller devices for the reasons listed above.

repigmentation-During repigmentation, sometimes the surrounding healthy skin further darkens as its melanocytes also respond to the treatments, and especially if they are exposed to natural sunlight, which contains far more of the UVA tanning wavelengths than the beneficial UVB wavelengths. To reduce the resulting contrast between lesion and healthy skin, and to avoid sunburn, UVB-Narrowband phototherapy patients should minimize their exposure to natural sunlight by avoiding the sun or using a sunblock (high-SPF sunscreen). If sunblock is used the skin should be washed the day before phototherapy treatment to ensure it does not block the beneficial UVB-Narrowband light. As treatments continue the contrast between lesion and healthy skin will gradually fade.

After repigmentation, sometimes the opposite happens as the newly repigmented lesions may initially be darker than the surrounding healthy skin, a result of the new melanocytes producing more melanin than the old melanocytes when exposed to the same amount of stimulating UV light. This is normal and the contrast will also gradually fade so that within months of continued treatments the patient’s skin tone will become more well blended.

For an interesting video illustrating the UVB-Narrowband repigmentation process for vitiligo, consider watching this video produced by Clinuvel in Australia:


With UVB-Narrowband light therapy, typically the face and neck are the first areas to respond, followed closely by the rest of the body. The hands and feet are typically the most difficult parts of the body to repigment, especially if the vitiligo is well established. To have the best chance of repigmentation, vitiligo patients should begin vitiligo treatments as soon as possible.

After repigmentation has been achieved, some non-segmental vitiligo patients may have lesions reappear over the coming months or years. To help prevent this, patients should consider ongoing and ideally full-body UVB-Narrowband maintenance treatments at a reduced dose and frequency. Doing so helps to keep the immune system under control and protects the melanocytes from renewed attack, while making large amounts of Vitamin D naturally within the skin.

In practice, UVB-NB phototherapy is effective in hospital and dermatologist phototherapy clinics (of which there are about 1000 in USA, and 100 publically funded in Canada), and equally well in the patient’s home. Hundreds of medical studies have been published – a search on the USA Government’s respected PubMed website for “Narrowband UVB” will return more than 400 listings!

Home UVB-Narrowband phototherapy has proven effective because, even though the devices used are typically smaller and have fewer bulbs than those at the phototherapy clinic, home units use the exact same part numbers of Philips UVB-NB bulbs, so the only practical difference is somewhat longer treatment times to achieve the same dose and the same results. Compared to clinical phototherapy, the convenience of home treatments has many advantages, including great time and travel savings, easier treatment scheduling (fewer missed treatments), privacy, and the ability to continue maintenance treatments after repigmentation is achieved, instead of being discharged by the clinic and letting the vitiligo return. Solarc believes that ongoing UVB-Narrowband treatments are an excellent long-term solution for vitiligo control.

What our customers are saying…

  • Avatar Eva Amos
    Received my 6 light Solarc System two weeks ago on the recommendation of my dermatologist for the treatment of vitiligo. I had been receiving light therapy treatments at the clinic but that was a 45 minute drive each way. After noticing an improvement … More at the clinic I decided to purchase my own in home system. The customer service I received from Solarc was outstanding, system was easy to install, easy to use. So pleased I now have the convenience of having my own system and don’t have that drive three times a week.
    ★★★★★ 2 years ago
  • Avatar Diane Wells
    Our purchase went extremely smoothly from Solarc was shipped and received promptly and customer service was quick with a reply to us when we had a question after receiving our light! We are excited to improve the Vitamin D level in our bodies … More using this light! Thank you so much.
    ★★★★★ 2 years ago
  • Avatar Wayne C
    I purchased my system for psoriasis and it works great! I've been using a light therapy hand held unit for small patches on and off for a while, and it was time consuming! but this unit covers a larger area and clears it up much faster. Most creams … More don't work and injections are dangerous for your health! So this light therapy is the answer! The price seems a little high as my insurance wouldn't cover any of the cost, but it's worth every penny
    ★★★★★ a year ago

SolRx Home UVB Phototherapy Devices

Sollarc Building treatment for vitiligo

Solarc Systems’ product line is made up of four SolRx “device families” of different sizes developed over the last 25 years by real phototherapy patients. Today’s devices are almost always supplied as “UVB-Narrowband” (UVB-NB) using different sizes of Philips 311 nm /01 fluorescent lamps, which for home phototherapy will typically last 5 to 10 years and often longer. For the treatment of some specific eczema types, most SolRx devices can alternatively be fitted with bulbs for special UV wavebands: UVB-Broadband, UVA bulbs for PUVA, and UVA-1.

To select the best SolRx device for you, please visit our Selection Guide, give us a phone call at 866‑813‑3357, or come visit our manufacturing plant and showroom at 1515 Snow Valley Road in Minesing (Springwater Township) near Barrie, Ontario; which is just a few kilometres west of Highway 400. We will do our best to help you. switch

SolRx UVB-NB Phototherapy
devices recommended for treating Vitiligo


CAW 760M 400x400 1 treatment for vitiligo

The SolRx E‑Series is our most popular device family. The Master device is a narrow 6‑foot, 2,4 or 6 bulb panel that can be used by itself, or expanded with similar Add‑On devices to build a multidirectional system that surrounds the patient for optimal UVB-Narrowband light delivery.  US$1295 and up


Solarc 500-Series 5-bulb home phototherapy device for hands, feet and spots

The SolRx 500‑Series has the greatest light intensity of all Solarc devices. For spot treatments, it can be rotated to any direction when mounted on the yoke (shown), or for hand & foot treatments used with the removable hood (not shown).  Immediate treatment area is 18″ x 13″. US$1195 to US$1695

It is important that you discuss with your physician / healthcare professional the best choices for you; their advice always takes priority over any guidance provided by Solarc.


The information and material contained in this website is for general information purposes only.

While effort is made to ensure that the information provided in this website is current and accurate, the trustees, officers, directors and employees of Solarc Systems Inc., as well as the authors and website administrators of and will assume no responsibility for the accuracy and correctness of the information on this site or for any consequences of relying on it.

The information provided herein is not intended and does not represent medical advice to any person on any specific matter and should not be a substitute for the advice and/or treatment from a medical practitioner. You must consult your physician or a specialist dermatologist to obtain medical advice. Individuals or users who place reliance on the information contained in this site do so entirely at their own risk and no action or claim shall be brought against the authors, website administrators or any representatives of, or for, Solarc Systems Inc., for any consequences arising out of such reliance.

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Address: 1515 Snow Valley Road Minesing, ON, Canada  L9X 1K3

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