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Photoallergic and phototoxic disorders of the ethnic skin
Department of Dermatology, University Hospital of Zurich, Switzerland
In comparison to the Caucasian skin type, the Afro-American skin type - or skin type IV - is much less sensitive to sunburn. However, also the ethnic skin is able to tan and can even get sunburned if not continuously sun-exposed. In addition, also a large variety of photosensitive disorders is common in Africans such as cutaneous LE, drug-induced eruptions and some forms of atopic dermatitis. Vitiligo is a common disease leading to easier sunburn and also socio-psychological problems. In addition, several hereditary pigmentary disorders are quite frequent due to consanguinity among various tribes. Xeroderma pigmentosum, and especially oculo-cutaneous albinism lead to heavily increased susceptibility against sun, premature skin ageing, as well as early and often invalidating squamous skin cell carcinomas. Besides these medical problems, albinos often face severe social problems, ranging from being excluded from society up to being killed for their fair skin, which is said to have aphrodisiac effects according to some archaic beliefs. Finally, hypoalimentation may lead to nutrition disorders with associated photosensitivity: Pellagra and pellagroid are quite common in some regions depending on seasonal changes of staple food supply.
© Peter Schmid-Grendelmeier (text) and Radoslaw Spiewak (source code).
This page is part of the website photopatch.eu (contact).
Document created: 7 September 2009, last updated: 8 September 2009.