Photography has been used in human skin research for some time. With the advent of digital photography in recent years, its use has increased. However, the focus has now turned from documentation to actual analysis and quantification of skin color changes. The advantages of digital photography outweigh any shortcomings as long as consistent, standardized procedures are followed and quality control is implemented. We present a simple procedure to standardize images and discuss a computer-assisted digital image evaluation (CADIE) technique to quantify skin color changes following UV exposure. The CADIE approach is illustrated with examples from two different studies on UV responses in human skin. Using the Commission Internationale de l'Eclairage L*a*b* color coordinate system in combination with a personal computer and image-editing software, we analyzed digital images obtained in these two studies. We demonstrate the feasibility of using digital photography for objective evaluation of UV erythema in different racial/ethnic groups and for measuring pigmentation changes caused by repeated exposures over a period of several weeks. Our results indicate how objective assessment using CADIE can be an adjunct to visual and optical observation in clinical and scientific evaluations.
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Vol. 82 • No. 3