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Authors: Prof. Robin Williams and Gigi Williams

Biomedical Applications: Dermatology

Application Notes Reference
Surface Detail
Noted that hyperpigmentation in avitaminosis, as well as faint traces of leprosy, could be detected with this technique.

Also noted the extraordinary fine detail of skin in regards to texture, lines and wrinkles.

Dent 1938
Hyper- and Hypopigmentation
Surface detail
First application of electronic flash for recording skin. Showed examples of vitiligo and pigmented naevus and the fine detail of skin. Lunnon 1959
Vitiligo Discussed various photographic methods of recording skin diseases and briefly discussed the use of the reflected ultraviolet technique for vitiligo. Lunnon 1961
Alopecia areata Naevus pigmentosus Tinea capitas Showed examples of ultraviolet photography and demonstrated their effectiveness in diagnosis and clinical investigation. Lunnon 1968
Vascular Conditions
Showed examples of the following conditions which were more clearly delineated by the reflected ultraviolet technique:
-freckles, Peutz-Jegher syndrome, Berlocque dermatitis, melasma, naevus pigmentosus.
-vitiligo, alopecia areata of beard, Sutton's halo naevus, scleroderma, pseudoxanthoma-elasticum, tuberous sclerosis, adenoma sebaceum.Lichenoid eczema, palmar skin ridging.
Contact dermatitis, nummular eczema, molluscum contagiosum, nail dystrophy, scleroderma, trauma to hand.
Erythema and livedo.
Lunnon 1974
Surface Detail
Short review article which discussed useful medical applications of the reflected ultraviolet technique, eg., pigmented naevus or other pigmentary disturbances especially where melanin was involved. Also discussed the value of the technique for showing surface detail of skin. Lunnon 1979
Freckles First recording of freckles using this technique (actually photographed in 1956). Hansell 1961
Vitiligo, freckles, atrophic dermatitis Concluded that monochromatic ultraviolet photography (365nm) was particularly useful in demonstrating pigmentary disturbance and for revealing detail in superficial conditions. Mustakallio and Korhonen 1966
Vitiligo A case of vitiligo on the back was shown using the reflected ultraviolet technique. Phillips 1976
Melanin pigmentation Differentiation between epidermal and dermal melanosis, on the basis that ultraviolet only penetrated to the epidermal melanin. Gilchrest 1977
Petechie Pityriasis Tattoos 'Miners stripes
Showed the method to be useful for a hot water bottle burn of the abdomen but not much use for petechie. Useful in showing contrast in pityriasis versicolor, but not for xanthelasma palpebrarum. The technique erased tattoos and was not useful for 'miners stripes.' Marshall 1977
Pigmentation in caucasian, Asian and negroid skin Used ultraviolet and infrared photography to study melanin pigmentation in both the dermis and epidermis in a wide range of conditions and races. Concluded that reflected ultraviolet was good for hyper and hypopigmentation and also that this method could differentiate between dermal and epidermal melanin. Morikawa et al 1981
Melasma, ephelides, naevus spilus, vitiligo. Reflected ultraviolet positively beneficial in differentiation. Morikawa et al 1981
Naevus ofota, blue naevus and mongolian spot
Sometimes useful.
Not shown by reflected ultraviolet (but infrared very useful).
Morikawa et al 1981
Melasma, chloasma, vitiligo Reported successful use of reflected ultraviolet technique in dermatological re- search. Williams 1988
Sun damage Applied commercial "UV Detect" camera to patients in order to visualize "Sun Damage" for cosmetic dermatological practice. Fulton 1997


  • Dent, R., 1938, "The photographic illustration of medical subjects," Photogr. J.78:197-207.
  • Fulton, J., 1997, "Utilizing the ultraviolet (UV Detect) camera to enhance the appearance of Photodamage and other skin conditions," Dermatol Surg 23 : 163-169.
  • Gilchrest, B., Fitzpatrick T., Anderson R., and Parrish J., 1977, "Localisation of melanin pigmentation in the skin with Wood's lamp," Brit. J. Derm. 96:245-248.
  • Hansell, P., 1961, "Ultraviolet radiations," In Medical photography in practice Linsson, E. (Ed). 175-192. Fountain Press. London.
  • Lunnon, R., 1959, "Direct ultraviolet photography of the skin," Med. Biol. Illustr 9 (3):150-154.
  • Lunnon, R., 1961, "Some observations on the photography of diseased skin," Med. Biol.lllustr.11:98-103.
  • Lunnon, R., 1968, "Clinical ultraviolet photography," J. Biol. Photogr. 36(2): 72-78.
  • Lunnon, R., 1974, "Reflective ultraviolet photography in medicine," MSc Thesis. Faculty of Medicine. University of London.
  • Lunnon, R., 1979, "Direct or reflected UV photography," Photogr. J. 119:380-381.
  • Marshall, R., 1977, " A study of the selective absorption of ultra-violet and infra-red radiation by some pigmented lesions of the skin," PhD Thesis. CNAA. London.
  • Morikawa, F., Nakayama, Y., Iikura, T., Nakajima, K., Ohta, S. and Ishihara, M., 1981, "The application of photographic techniques for the differentiation of the location of melanin pigment in the skin," Chapter 2. In "Biology and diseases of dermal pigmentation. " 231-243. Fitzpatrick, T. (Ed). University of Tokyo Press.
  • Mustakallio, K. & Korhonen, P., 1966, "Monochromatic ultraviolet photography in dermatology," J. Investig. Derm. 47:351-356.
  • Phillips, R., 1976, "Photography as an aid to dermatology," Med. BioI Illustr. 26:161-166.
  • Williams, A. R, 1988, "Reflected ultraviolet photography," J. Biol. Photogr. 56:3-11.

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Last modified: 3 May 2002