Rethinking Healthcare

Your skin problems, captured by thermal imaging cameras

Posting in Technology

Doctors usually diagnose psoriasis by observing how red, thick, and scaly the skin is. But by using a thermal camera, doctors can now quantify skin problems.

Thermal imaging cameras that can reveal where pathogens are lurking in a forested landscape can now be used to identify problems with your skin.

Doctors usually diagnose common psoriasis by visually assessing how much of the skin is covered in lesions. And they also look at how reddened, thickened, and scaly it has become. But these observations – which make up the Psoriasis Area Severity Index score -- are pretty subjective.

To find a more accurate method, Francisco Tausk at the University of Rochester and colleagues at the Rochester Institute of Technology turned to imaging technology. New Scientist explains.

  1. Thermal cameras can quantify redness because the circulation underneath skin lesions makes them warmer (pictured above).
  2. Photographing the skin under ultraviolet light highlights hard plaques, which actually contain an amino acid that fluoresces.

Together, these two approaches picked out the areas of the skin that looked normal to the naked eye – which suggests that the method may be able to predict where lesions will develop.

The team hope to begin clinical trials on their imaging system soon.

[Via New Scientist]

Image: Rochester Institute of Technology

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Janet Fang

Contributing Editor

Janet Fang has written for Nature, Discover and the Point Reyes Light. She is currently a lab technician at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. She holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure