Photosensitivity is an important characteristic feature of several forms of lupus erythematosus (LE), and induction of skin lesions by UV-A and UV-B irradiation has been proved to be an optimal model for evaluating light sensitivity in patients with this disease. Because lupus erythematosus tumidus (LET) has rarely been documented in the literature and is often difficult to differentiate from other photodermatoses such as polymorphous light eruption, we performed photoprovocation tests in 60 patients with LET according to a standardized protocol. Areas of uninvolved skin on the upper back were irradiated with single doses of UV-A (100 J/cm2) and/or UV-B (1.5 minimal erythema dose) daily for three consecutive days. Interestingly, patients with LET are more photosensitive than those with subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus, and in our study experimental phototesting revealed characteristic skin lesions in 43 patients (72%). Because of the latency period in developing positive phototest reactions, it might be difficult for these patients to link sun exposure with their skin lesions. Furthermore, our data revealed a positive correlation of antinuclear antibodies and positive provocative phototest reactions in these patients as seen for other forms of LE. In conclusion, the high incidence of positive phototest reactions in correlation with the clinical findings, history of photosensitivity and antinuclear antibodies enable the classification of LET as the most photosensitive type of LE.
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Vol. 73 • No. 5