12 February 2019
In the second Communiqué we look closer at the role of narrowband UVB (NB-UVB) as the only standard of care at present in vitiligo, both the segmental and generalised form of the disease. Although it is widely accepted in photodermatology that NB-UVB is not a reliable and effective therapy for vitiligo, due to a lack of better available treatment it is offered to patients who show some signs of repigmentation.
In 1903, Professor Niels Ryberg Finsen won the Nobel Prize for medicine for his work treating lupus vulgaris (skin lesions associated with tuberculosis) using “light therapy”. Finsen – who himself suffered from the rare Niemann-Pick disease (membranous disease of spleen, liver and heart) and who had become invalid in the latter stages of his life – theorised that additional exposure to light would help treat certain diseases, either in the form of sunlight or artificial exposure. In 1893 Finsen published “Om Lysets Indvirkninger paa Huden” (A discourse on the effects of light on the skin) and three years later “Om Anvendelse i Medicinen af koncentrerede kemiske Lysstraaler” (The use of concentrated chemical light rays in medicine). He laid the foundation of today’s discipline of photomedicine and the Society of Photomedicine. His dissertations focused initially on smallpox and lupus vulgaris using different wavelengths of light.
Figure 2. UV forecast for Australian capital cities, 13 February 2019