Photoreactions and Testing

  • Margarida GonçaloEmail author


Skin reactions induced by exposure to UV light and photoactive chemicals can be phototoxic or photoallergic or can involve both mechanisms. Phototoxic reactions present as exaggerated sunburn, eventually with bullae and hyperpigmentation, whereas an eczematous pattern in photoexposed areas is mainly observed in photoallergy.

Photopatch testing (duplicate patch testing with irradiation of one set with 5 J/cm2 UVA) is the recommended diagnostic test in photoallergic contact dermatitis (PhACD), but it may be useful to photopatch test all patients with dermatitis in sun-exposed areas, with a history of aggravation by the sun or with exposure to UV filters or NSAIDs, the main causes of PhACD. A baseline and extended series of photoactive chemicals has been recommended to be tested in patients along with their own products.

Further avoidance of chemicals and cross-reactive substances that cause photoallergy is necessary for resolution of the dermatitis. For phototoxic chemicals when avoidance is not possible (systemic drugs), other photoprotection measures are mandatory, as there is increasing evidence of relation between nonmelanoma skin cancer and exposure to these chemicals.


Photosensitivity Phototoxicity Photoallergy UV filters Drug photosensitivity Photopatch test 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Clinic of DermatologyUniversity Hospital and Faculty of Medicine, University of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal

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