Wood’s Lamp


Other Known Aliases – Ultraviolet (UV)-A lamp, blacklight

Definition – Handheld UV light that emits UV-A (long-wave) light with a violet filter, which blocks most of the visible light, and only allows the UV-A through

Image result for wood's lamp


Clinical Significance – There are many medical applications for using UV light for quick, bedside diagnosis.  One of these is for fungal infections of the skin, most commonly Tinea infections.  Tinea infections will fluoresce under UV-A light.

Image result for wood's lamp tinea

Tinea versicolor

Image result for wood's lamp tinea capitis

Tinea capitis


History – Named after Robert W. Wood (1868-1955), who was an American physicist, inventor, and a pioneer in infrared and ultraviolet photography.  In 1903, he developed a filter that would block visible light, but be transparent to both infrared and ultraviolet light.  He won several awards and honors in the field of optics (he even has a crater on the moon named after him) and is the namesake of the R.W. Wood Prize of the Optical Society of America, which recognizes outstanding discovery, achievement, or invention.

Robert Williams Wood.png


  1. Firkin BG and Whitwirth JA.  Dictionary of Medical Eponyms. 2nd ed.  New York, NY; Parthenon Publishing Group. 1996.
  2. Bartolucci S, Forbis P.  Stedman’s Medical Eponyms.  2nd ed.  Baltimore, MD; LWW.  2005.
  3. Yee AJ, Pfiffner P. (2012).  Medical Eponyms (Version 1.4.2) [Mobile Application Software].  Retrieved http://itunes.apple.com.
  4. Whonamedit – dictionary of medical eponyms. http://www.whonamedit.com
  5. Ponka D, Baddar F. Wood lamp examination. Canadian family physician Medecin de famille canadien. 2012; 58(9):976. [pubmed]
  6. Ducharme EE, Silverberg NB. Selected applications of technology in the pediatric dermatology office. Seminars in cutaneous medicine and surgery. 2008; 27(1):94-100. [pubmed]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s