Red Light Therapy
Visible red light has been shown to stimulate melanocyte growth, resulting in repigmentation of vitiligo-affected skin in a few studies. In an effort to prove the efficacy of this form of light in vitiligo, University of British Columbia researchers are recruiting 12 vitiligo patient volunteers to participate in a single-blind, randomized clinical trial in which the effects of high-intensity red light will be compared against a low-intensity red laser. The test is scheduled to be completed by December 2013.
NASA discovered over forty years ago that red light stimulates plant growth. It was also found to promote cell repair and healing of injuries incurred by astronauts while in space.
Long-wave light is weaker than short-wave light, and therefore causes less skin damage. Because red light is long-wave, it is easier on the skin than the short-wave (NB-UVB, or UVA light in PUVA) light more commonly used to treat skin diseases such as psoriasis and vitiligo
Red light machines are commonly advertised to treat areas of skin affected by skin aging, uneven skin tone, and acne, among other cosmetic skin changes. Small spots or areas can be also treated with the use of a red light laser. Lasers intensify the power of a light emission by their ability to focus the light onto small areas. Low-intensity red lasers are used in the treatment of oral herpes (fever blisters, cold sores).
Dr. Mohammed AlJasser, co-investigator of the red light therapy study, say: "the trial we are currently conducting using red light is based on studies done by a Taiwanese group." In that study, 30 patients with segmental-type vitiligo on the head and/or neck were enrolled in the study. Red helium-neon (He-Ne) laser light was administered locally, once or twice weekly. After an average of 16 treatment sessions, initial repigmentation was noticed. Marked repigmentation was observed in 60% of patients with successive treatments.