Phototoxic dermatitis

Last Updated: 2023-07-07

Author(s): Anzengruber F., Navarini A.


UV-triggered reaction leading to dermatitis but not due to an allergic reaction.


; photoallergic


When a photosensitizer is activated by UV radiation, energy is transferred to the surrounding tissue after it has been absorbed. The cell damage triggered by this is called phototoxic dermatitis. 

A photosensitizer can be plants (e.g. meadow grass dermatitis), perfume (Berloque dermatitis) or systemic drugs (e.g. in PUVA).

In the area of UV-exposed localisations, erythema and possibly also blisters occur. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation may occur




If necessary, biopsy

UV protection

  1. Onoue S, Seto Y, Sato H, Nishida H, Hirota M, Ashikaga T, Api AM, Basketter D, Tokura Y. Chemical photoallergy: photobiochemical mechanisms, classification, and risk assessments. J Dermatol Sci. 2017 Jan;85(1):4-11.
  2. Zuba EB, Koronowska S, Osmola-Mańkowska A, Jenerowicz D. Drug-induced Photosensitivity. Acta Dermatovenerol Croat. 2016 Apr;24(1):55-64.