A Wood's lamp has been recommended as a means to identify semen stains during rape evaluation.
A Wood's lamp emits ultraviolet light at 360 nm. It is shined on a surface in a darkened room.
Semen fluoresces at a wavelength of 450-500 nm. It may not fluoresce at the wavelength emitted by a Wood's lamp.
Some of the material that may fluoresce under a Wood's lamp:
(1) urine, blood or other body fluids
(2) common medical lubricants and creams
(3) bacitracin or other antibiotic cream
(4) tonic water (associated with quinine)
(7) laundry detergent
(9) Castille soap
(1) A Wood's lamp is not a good method to screen an area for semen.
(2) One cannot assume that something that fluoresces is semen. Additional testing is required to confirm the origin of material.
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Specialty: Clinical Laboratory, Emergency Medicine, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Pedatrics