Arch Derm Syphilol. Sep;56(3) A case for diagnosis: lichen ruber moniliformis (?), dermatitis actinica from roentgen ray therapy of legs. OBERMAYER. Dermatitis Actinica; Dr. Selden I. Rainforth (American, – ); ; Color Photomechanical; XC; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. Dermatologic stereoview card. Front of card depicts a man with Dermatitis Actinica on his face. The reverse of the card describes the dermatologic conditions as.

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Chronic actinic dermatitis is a rare skin condition that mainly affects men over the age of 50 years. It is characterised by severely itchy, red, inflamed, and thickened dry skin, mainly in areas that have been exposed to sunlight or artificial light.

The condition is also known as chronic photosensitivity dermatitis and actinic reticuloid this name comes from the histological findings of skin biopsies which resemble a reticulosis or cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.

Dermatitis Actinica

Chronic actinic dermatitis mostly affects middle-aged or elderly men. In many patients with the condition there is frequently a history of other kinds of dermatitisincluding atopic dermatitisallergic contact dermatitis especially to plants such as chrysanthemum and photocontact dermatitis for many years before the photosensitivity develops.


In these cases it is dermstitis called persistent light reaction.

The rash may develop in all areas exposed to the sun, with the face, neck, upper chest in a V distribution and backs of hands most commonly affected. The lesions are usually red and inflamed with scaling and lichenification thickened and hardened patches of skin.

The rash can be very itchy. The rash may spread to other areas of the body where the skin is covered by clothing.

Dermatitis Actinica (Getty Museum)

The rash can be provoked by as little as 30 seconds exposure to daylight. It is condition that is often present throughout the year.

Patients are at risk even on dull days and through window glass. Some of them also react to artificial light sources, especially naked fluorescent lamps. Testing shows chronic actinic dermatitis is due to abnormal reactions to UVB, UVA acttinica in severe cases to visible light.

Phototesting can be used to confirm the diagnosis.

This involves specialized tests in which areas of skin are dermatiyis to known amounts of light of specific wavelengths. The reactions that develop confirm the presence of an abnormal reaction to the light. Patch testing and photopatch testing are also used. Patients with chronic actinic dermatitis must take measures to avoid sun exposure by following sun protection strategies.


In severe cases it may be necessary to admit the patient to a dark room in hospital.

In addition, if a contact allergy in involved the patient must try to avoid the offending substance. Extremely cautious desensitizing with photochemotherapy PUVA or narrowband UVB with systemic steroid cover has been successful in some cases.

Actinic keratosis

The condition may spontaneously resolve, sometimes many years after the onset of the disease. For most people it is a lifelong condition that requires significant lifestyle changes to avoid sunlight as well as contact dermatihis. Self-skin examination New smartphone apps to check your skin Learn more Sponsored content.

DermNet NZ does not provide an online consultation service. If you have any concerns with your skin or its treatment, see a dermatologist for advice. Dermatology Online Journal9 4: