Centre of Evidence Based Dermatology

Pilot HI-Light trial for the treatment of early/focal vitiligo

This was a trial on home light therapy for vitiligo. This trial was a small pilot randomised controlled trial (RCT) comparing hand-held light therapy (NB-UVB 311nm) devices with dummy devices. The devices were used by the trial participants to treat their vitiligo at home for a period of four months. The study was funded as part of a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Programme Grant award.

  • Chief Investigator - Professor Hywel Williams
  • Trial Manager and Research Fellow - Dr Viktoria Eleftheriadou




More information about the trial is available on the ClinicalTrials.gov website.


t: 0115 823 1048
e: cebd@nottingham.ac.uk


Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is vitiligo?

Vitiligo is a skin condition that causes white patches on the skin. It affects around 0.5% of the population worldwide, both children and adults.

2. What was the purpose of this trial?

The HI-LIGHT pilot trial was designed to test the feasibility and safety of using hand-held light therapy devices to treat vitiligo at home.

It was important to conduct this small test trial before conducting a much larger national trial, so that we could test out how best to conduct the future trial, and to ensure that the treatments can be used safely at home.

We were particularly interested in finding out if participants felt confident in receiving light therapy treatment at home, and whether or not people with vitiligo would be interested in taking part in a future study.

As part of this development work, we also produced an educational training package and DVD demonstrating how to use hand-held light therapy devices at home.

3. What treatments were tested?

Participants were put into three groups. Two groups received hand-held narrowband ultraviolet light (NB-UVB) devices (Group A: Dermfix 1000TM and Goup B: WladmannTM). The remaining participants received dummy devices that gave out ‘normal’ light and so were not actively treating the vitiligo.  This was needed so that we could conduct a fair test between the different groups. 

4. How many participants took part?

Twenty nine patients with vitiligo took part in this 4-month study. Most of the participants were adults (23 adults), but six children also took part.

5. What were the main findings?

The pilot study was very successful and clearly demonstrated a lot of enthusiasm from patients with vitiligo to take part in research studies like this.

The participants who took part in the study were able to use the light therapy devices safely at home and followed the treatment schedule correctly. Twenty five people completed the four-month trial and provided information at each of the study visits.

Side-effects from the treatment were generally mild and included reddening of the treated skin, itching, darkening of the skin around the vitiligo, dry skin and cold sores.

A large-scale national trial looking at the safety and effectiveness of treatments for vitiligo that can be used at home has now been funded by the National Institute for Health Research. This trial will be recruiting throughout the UK and is due to start recruiting patients with vitiligo in Spring 2015. Find out more.




This webpage presents independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) under its Programme Grants for Applied Research funding scheme (RP-PG-0407-10177). The views expressed in this website are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.

Centre of Evidence Based Dermatology

The University of Nottingham
Applied Health Research Building
University Park, Nottingham

telephone: +44 (0) 115 84 68631
email: cebd@nottingham.ac.uk