Sunlight and Vitiligo
Some doctors permit, and/or prescribe, sunlight for their vitiligo patients when a prescription light source is not available. PUVA-Sol is a form of PUVA with an oral or topical psoralen which is used with sunlight rather than artificial UVA light. Moderation must be used, however, as burning the skin can damage it and possibly cause the vitiligo to spread. When using sun as a therapy, it is important to start slowly and gradually build up time. A pink color (not red) in the vitiligo areas a few hours after sun exposure is the desired effect. As the skin becomes accustomed to the sun, it can take longer to achieve pinkness. Like any other treatment, sunlight would need to be used at a therapeutic level consistently for it to be beneficial.
Safety – It should be noted that NB-UVB is safer for the skin than sunlight. Sunlight contains the UVA rays which penetrate the skin more deeply than the UVB rays. Recently, scientists have learned that UVA rays while not contributing to sunburns, damage deeper layers of the skin and probably play an important role in wrinkling, spotting, lost elasticity and the dangerous skin cancer melanoma. UVB are the burning rays. By using Narrow Band-UVB you can achieve a therapeutic level of treatment in just a few minutes as opposed to the longer times required by sunlight, reducing your overall exposure to these potentially damaging rays.
There is growing evidence that vitamin D levels are often low in those with autoimmune disease; whether this is a cause of the disease or a result of it is as yet unknown. Sunlight in moderation (15 minutes a day 3 days a week) can help build up the vitamin D level and support the immune system, while also stimulating pigment cells. Vitamin D supplements can also be used.