• chronic actinic dermatitis;
  • photoallergy;
  • photodermatitis;
  • phototoxicity;
  • polymorphous light eruption;
  • porphyrias;
  • solar urticaria



Only a few studies have compared frequencies of photodermatoses among different races and skin types. This is an extension of a study performed by Kerr and Lim and evaluates the frequency of photodermatoses in African-Americans compared with Caucasians in the same institution during an 8-year period.


Retrospective chart review was performed, including dermatology clinic charts from October 2004 to August 2012 with International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision diagnostic codes related to photodermatoses.


We identified 229 patients with photodermatoses. Of these, 138 (46.6%) were African-American and 63 (42.2%) were Caucasian. Statistically significant differences in the distribution of photodermatoses in African-Americans and Caucasians, respectively, were as follows: phototoxic drug eruption (0.7% and 15.9%, P < 0.0001), phytophotodermatitis (0% and 6.3%, P = 0.009), polymorphous light eruption (PMLE) (86.2% and 54%, P < 0.0001) and porphyrias (0% and 7.9%, P = 0.003).


Combined with data from Kerr and Lim, this is the largest study of photodermatoses in African-Americans to date. Congruent to former studies, photodermatoses do occur regularly in dark-skinned individuals. Overall, the frequency of photodermatoses in African-Americans and Caucasians are similar; however, PMLE occurs more commonly in African-Americans, and porphyias and phototoxicity occur more commonly in Caucasians.