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November 1992

Photoallergic Contact Dermatitis: Results of Photopatch Testing in New York, 1985 to 1990

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Environmental Dermatology, Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, New York, NY.

Arch Dermatol. 1992;128(11):1513-1518. doi:10.1001/archderm.1992.01680210091015

† Background.—  Over a 6-year period, 187 patients with a history of photosensitivity were photopatch tested using standard techniques. Seventy-six patients were male and 111 were female. Most patients were white (151 patients). Two thirds of the patients were between the ages of 31 and 60 years.

Observation.—  Testing revealed a total of 63 positive reactions: 14 plain contact, 41 photocontact, and eight combined contact and photocontact in 37 (20%) patients. Careful history taking resulted in a diagnosis of clinically relevant photoallergic contact dermatitis in 54% of these 37 patients or 11% (20) of the total tested. Ten of the relevant responses were due to fragrance ingredients (musk ambrette and 6-methylcoumarin); 18 were due to sunscreen agents (nine to p-aminobenzoic acid and esters, nine to oxybenzone). The fragrance reactions occurred in the early years of the study (1985, 1986, and 1987) while the sunscreen agents accounted for all but two of the 14 positive reactions in the last 3 years of the study (1988, 1989, and 1990).

Conclusion.—  These data suggest that the incidence of photoallergy due to fragrances is declining, while reactions to sunscreen agents, in particular oxybenzone, are increasing. This trend may reflect an altered use pattern by the general population for products containing these chemicals.(Arch Dermatol. 1992;128:1513-1518)