Insight into photodermatoses

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One in ten people react to sunlight by developing eczema. This abnormal reaction is one of a group of disorders known as photodermatoses. In the current issue of Deutsches Ärzteblatt International, Percy Lehmann and Thomas Schwarz describe the clinical range of these skin diseases and the options for treating them (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2011; 108(9): 135-41).

Certain photodermatoses such as photocontact allergies are triggered by photosensitizing substances while others are a result of systemic diseases such as metabolic disorders. Sunburn is not, however, a photodermatosis. It can occur in any person who is exposed for too long to high UV radiation and is primarily caused by the UV-B spectrum. On the other hand, a person with a photodermatosis is hypersensitive predominantly to UV-A radiation.

As well as avoiding UV light as a preventative, treatments available include ointments for local application and tablets. Therapeutic radiation with light can also be an option.

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