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Exp Dermatol. 1997 Dec;6(6):283-91.

Skin changes in "screen dermatitis" versus classical UV- and ionizing irradiation-related damage--similarities and differences.

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  • 1Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.


An increasing number of persons say that they get cutaneous problems as well as symptoms from certain internal organs, such as the central nervous system (CNS) and the heart, when being close to electric equipment. A major group of these patients are the users of video display terminals (VDTs), who claim to have subjective and objective skin- and mucosa-related symptoms, such as pain, itch, heat sensation, erythema, papules, and pustules. The CNS symptoms are, e.g. dizziness, tiredness, and headache. Erythema, itch, heat sensation, edema and pain are also common symptoms of sunburn (UV dermatitis). Alterations have been observed in cell populations of the skin of patients suffering from so-called "screen dermatitis" similar to those observed in the skin damaged due to ultraviolet (UV) light or ionizing radiation. In "screen dermatitis" patients a much higher number of mast cells have been observed. It is known that UVB irradiation induces mast cell degranulation and release of TNF-alpha. The high number of mast cells present in the "screen dermatitis" patients and the possible release of specific substances, such as histamine, may explain their clinical symptoms of itch, pain, edema and erythema. The most remarkable change among cutaneous cells, after exposure with the above-mentioned irradiation sources, is the disappearance of the Langerhans' cells. This change has also been observed in "screen dermatitis" patients, again pointing to a common cellular and molecular basis. The results of this literature study demonstrate that highly similar changes exist in the skin of "screen dermatitis" patients, as regards the clinical manifestations as well as alterations in the cell populations, and in skin damaged by UV light or ionizing radiation.

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