Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed. 2023 Oct 26. doi: 10.1111/phpp.12919. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: Favipiravir is an antiviral agent, recently used for COVID-19 infections. Several reports associate favipiravir intake with Wood’s lamp fluorescence of hair, nails, and sclera. The present study was designed to elucidate the positivity rates, and sites of favipiravir-related fluorescence and to unravel the site-specific changes in fluorescence positivity rates by a function of time past exposure.
METHODS: The study population comprised 50 patients and 50 control individuals. All patients in the patient group had received a full dose of favipiravir for COVID-19 infection. Fifty volunteers served as the control group. Wood’s lamp examination was performed in a completely darkened room, and the positivity rate, extent, pattern, and distribution of fluorescence were recorded.
RESULTS: Wood’s light revealed fluorescence of the fingernails, toenails, sclera, and hair in 35 (70%), 35 (70%), 22 (44%), and 8 (16%) patients, respectively. No control individual tested positive by Wood’s lamp. Statistical analysis revealed significant differences between patient and control groups in terms of Wood’s light luminescence in the fingernails (p = .000), toenails (p = .000), sclera (p = .000) and hair (p = .003). Although fingernail, toenail, and hair fluorescence positivity rates declined or ceased at or after 91 days of favipiravir exposure, ocular fluorescence positivity rates were prolonged up to 188 days.
CONCLUSIONS: These findings confirm that favipiravir may produce fluorescence of nails, sclera, and hair, detectable by Wood’s light starting from the initial month and peaking at second- and third months following exposure to the medication. Although nail and hair fluorescence tend to abate after 3 months, ocular fluorescence may persist even longer than 6 months after cessation of the medication.