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Analysis of photodermatoses seen in a predominantly Asian population at a photodermatology clinic in Singapore

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The idiopathic photodermatoses have been reported to be rarer in tropical Singapore than in countries of higher latitude, with photoaggravated dermatoses and systemic phototoxicity making up most of the photodermatoses seen here. This study aims to reassess the spectrum of photodermatoses seen at the National Skin Centre, Singapore, compared with almost a decade ago, and analyse the clinical and photobiological characteristics, as compared with other countries. Materials and methods:

We reviewed the clinical data of 141 patients phototested from January 2000 to December 2001, and analysed the epidemiological, clinical and photobiological features. Results:

Photosensitive dermatoses were diagnosed in 88% (124/141) of patients phototested. In those diagnosed with photodermatoses, polymorphic light eruption (PMLE) (28%) was the most common diagnosis, followed by photoaggravated dermatoses (26%), chronic actinic dermatitis (CAD) (15%), systemic phototoxicity (15%), solar urticaria (SU) (7%), actinic prurigo (AP) (5%) and photoallergic contact dermatitis (4%). Ethnic Indians appeared to be more predisposed to PMLE; AP was diagnosed only in ethnic Chinese. The other photodermatoses occurred proportionally in all racial groups. AP differed from that found in Caucasians, being of adult onset and persistent. Abnormal phototest results were obtained in all patients with CAD, SU and AP, but only in 56% and 49% of systemic phototoxicity and PMLE, respectively. Conclusion:

Idiopathic photodermatoses are more commonly diagnosed in Singapore than a decade ago, while the incidence of systemic phototoxicity has remained stable. The spectrumof photodermatoses in our Asian population now approximates that seen in Caucasian cohorts.
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