A Wood lamp examination is a test that uses ultraviolet (UV) light to look at the skin closely.
You sit in a dark room for this test. The test is usually done in a skin doctor's (dermatologist's) office. The doctor will turn on the Wood lamp and hold it 4 to 5 inches (10 to 12.5 centimeters) from the skin to look for color changes.
You do not need to take any special steps before this test. Follow your doctor's instructions about not putting creams or medicines on the area of the skin before the test.
You will have no discomfort during this test.
This test is done to look for skin problems including:
Not all types of bacteria and fungi show up under the light.
Normally the skin will not shine under the ultraviolet light.
A Wood lamp exam may help your doctor confirm a fungal or bacterial infection or diagnose vitiligo. Your doctor may also be able to learn what is causing any light- or dark-colored spots on your skin.
The following things can change the results of the test:
DO NOT look directly into the ultraviolet light, as the light may harm the eye.
Reviewed By: Michael Lehrer, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.