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Solar urticaria in Singapore: an uncommon photodermatosis seen in a tertiary dermatology center over a 10-year period

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Background:

Solar urticaria is an uncommon photodermatosis, characterized by the appearance of pruritic wheals after sun exposure. In this study, we examine the photobiological characteristics of solar urticaria in the heterogeneous group of Singaporean patients. Methods:

The photobiological features of all patients treated for solar urticaria at a tertiary dermatology center in Singapore over a 10-year period were retrospectively examined. Results:

A total of 19 patients were diagnosed to have solar urticaria from 1993 to 2002. The mean age at diagnosis was 26 years, with a racial distribution of 17 (90%) Chinese, one (5%) Malay, and one (5%) Indian. Fifteen (79%) patients were males and four (21%) were females. The face/neck (47%) and arms/forearms (58%) were most often affected. Six (32%) patients had a history of atopy and two (11%) had dermographism. Fifteen (79%) patients had Fitzpatrick's skin type IV, three (16%) had skin type III and one (5%) patient had skin type V. The mean exposure time to wheal formation was 23 min. The action spectra of solar urticaria were visible light for 12 (63%) patients, ultraviolet (UV) A for one (5%), visible light and UVA for five (27%), and natural sunlight for one (5%) patient. All patients reported partial improvement with a combination of antihistamines and sunscreens as the main modality of treatment. Conclusion:

Our data suggest that solar urticaria is an uncommon photodermatosis and a rare form of urticaria. Wheals were mostly elicited by visible light and/or UVA. A combination of antihistamines and sunscreens provided a useful form of therapy for patients with solar urticaria.
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Keywords: Singapore; phototesting; solar urticaria

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-04-01

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