Centre of Evidence Based Dermatology

Home Interventions and Light therapy for the treatment of vitiligo (HI-LIGHT)

The HI-Light Vitiligo Trial was a clinical trial involving 517 participants aged 5 years and over with vitiligo. It tested the  effectiveness of home-based light therapy and topical steroid cream, used alone or in combination, for the treatment of vitiligo. It was trial was designed to address two of the JLA priority topics for future research as identified by patients and healthcare professionals.

The study was led by Dr Jonathan Batchelor and Professor Kim Thomas from the Centre of Evidence Based Dermatology at The University of Nottingham, and was co-ordinated from the Nottingham Clinical Trials Unit

Many thanks to the 517 participants, and their families, who took in the HI-Light vitiligo study.

Trial results

Video showing trial results (view in new window)

Patient view

Video of Maxine's story (view in new window)



Key Facts

1. What is vitiligo?

Vitiligo is a skin condition that causes white patches on the skin. It affects around 0.5%-1.0% of the population worldwide, both children and adults.

2. Who took part in the trial?

People with a few relatively small patches of vitiligo, and at least one patch that has appeared or has enlarged in the last 12 months, were invited to participate in the trial. In total, 517 adults and children (5+ years of age) took part across the UK.

3. What treatments were tested?

Steroid ointment (applied to the skin) and home-based light therapy were tested in this study. These two treatments were used either by themselves or in combination, in order to see if combination treatment works better than either treatment alone. In order to prevent anyone from guessing a participant’s treatment, dummy UVB devices and placebo steroid ointment were used.

4. What are the study results?

Participants judged how noticeable a ‘target’ vitiligo patch was after 9 months of treatment. Over a quarter of participants (27%) who used both treatments together said that their vitiligo was either ‘no longer noticeable’ or ‘a lot less noticeable’ after 9 months of treatment. This compared to 17% of those using steroid ointment on its own and 22% of those using NB-UVB light on its own. 

So using both treatments together was better than using steroids ointment on its own. All treatments were able to stop the vitiligo from spreading, and were relatively safe, but light treatment required a considerable time commitment (approximately 20 minutes per session, 2 to 3 times per week).

The trial also found that the vitiligo tended to return once treatments were stopped. 


Disclaimer: This is an independent trial that is being funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment Programme (Application Reference 12/24/02). The views expressed on this website are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR. The study has been developed with the help and support of the UK Dermatology Clinical Trials Network (UK DCTN). Based at the University of Nottingham, the UK DCTN is a collaborative group of over 700 dermatologists, nurses, primary care staff, health care researchers and patients/carers. The aim of the Network is simple – to develop independent, high quality randomised controlled clinical trials of interventions for the treatment or prevention of skin disease. For further information please see the UK DCTN website - www.ukdctn.org.

 Data sharing: Anonymised patient level data are available from the Professor Kim S Thomas upon reasonable request.

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