Chronic Actinic Dermatitis: Light Sensitivity

People can have skin reactions to all types of things including foods, plants, chemicals, and materials, but did you know some people can have reactions to light? People who have Chronic Actinic Dermatitis (CAD) are extremely sensitive to sunlight or even artificial light and develop redness, inflammation, itching, burning, blistering, and dryness on their skin, especially in areas that are most often exposed to the sun. In many cases, 30 seconds is all it takes for a skin reaction to occur.


  • Found in people over the age of 50 years.
  • Usually involves other skin allergies other than sunlight.
  • Mainly affects men.
  • Occasionally occurs in younger patients who have atopic dermatitis.

Diagnosis is done through several types of testing:

  • Phototesting – Sun-protected skin is exposed to varying wavelengths (Ultraviolet rays type A, B, and visible light) and monitored for skin reactions.
  • Patch testing – Skin is tested for a variety to allergens that the skin may come into contact with to determine if there are other causes for skin sensitivity, including fragrances, plants, skin products, and other chemicals. The skin is observed for reactions and may involve more than one visit.

Although there is no cure, the following can be done to prevent symptoms from worsening:

  • Avoid exposure to sunlight by wearing protective clothing, hats, sunglasses, gloves even on overcast days.
  • Use dermatologist-prescribed sunscreen on all areas possibly exposed to light.
  • Install UV-protective film or windows on necessary areas of the home or vehicle.

Regardless of the severity of light sensitivity you have, CAD is a skin condition that requires the careful monitoring and care by an experienced dermatologist. Dr. Juan Vaillant of Old Bridge Dermatology is a board-certified dermatologist who has been serving patients in the Old Bridge, NJ area for over 30 years. A highly-respected dermatologist with many specialties, Dr. Vaillant works closely with his patients to come up with treatment plans for all types of dermatological issues including acne, dandruff, skin cancer, and eczema. Please contact us online or call us at (732) 679-0222 to schedule an appointment today!