Polymorphous Light Eruption: Am I Allergic to the Sun?

Polymorphous light eruption (PMLE) may sound like something out of a science fiction film, but this skin condition is surprisingly common. Here are five quick facts about PMLE.

What Is It?

The simple answer is: “It’s a rash,” says Dr. Miriam Hanson, a board certified Dermatologist in Austin, Texas, “that appears after sun exposure.” PMLE is commonly confused with hives but it isn’t quite the same thing.

Who Gets It?

PMLE can occur in any skin tone but is generally seen in those with fair skin. Anywhere from 5% – 20% of fair-skinned people may have symptoms. Women are more likely to have a PMLE flair than men. Most people report having their first attack in their teens or early 20’s. There may be a genetic component as those with a family history of PMLE are more likely to have it occur as well.

What Does It Look Like?

PMLE erupts shortly after sun exposure and generally appears as a red, bumpy, itchy rash. Occasionally, the rash will develop into fluid-filled blisters. In rare cases, fever or other flu-like symptoms occur as well.

What Time Of Year Is It Most Common?

Most reports of PMLE occur during the late spring and early summer months in the northern hemisphere. Basically, when sun exposure is more common.

How Do You Treat It?

Prevention is the best course of action. “If PMLE runs in your family or if you’ve had an incident in the past, limit your sun exposure by avoiding direct sunlight and take skin care precautions like long sleeves and sunscreen,” shares Dr. Hanson. Your doctor may prescribe an anti-itch cream or anti-inflammatory medication if you are especially uncomfortable. But most cases of PMLE clear up on their own with no addition intervention. “At Sanova Dermatology, we also prescribe Phototherapy in selected patients,” says Dr. Hanson. If you develop blisters as a result of a PMLE flair, do not irritate them and see your doctor for proper care.

Contact Us

If you or someone you care about has PMLE be sure and contact us to make an appointment to learn more.

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