Polymorphous light eruption (PMLE) is a common skin reaction in people who are sensitive to sunlight (ultraviolet light).
Polymorphic light eruption; Photodermatosis; PMLE; Benign summer light eruption
The exact cause of PMLE is unknown. However, it may be genetic. Doctors think it is a type of delayed allergic reaction. It is common among young women who live in moderate (temperate) climates.
Polymorphous means taking on different forms, and eruption means rash. As the name suggests, symptoms of PMLE are rash-like and are different in different people.
PMLE most often occurs in spring and early summer on areas of the body exposed to the sun.
Symptoms usually appear within 1 to 4 days after exposure to sunlight. They include any of the following:
Steroid creams or ointments containing vitamin D may be prescribed by your provider. They are used 2 or 3 times a day at the start of the eruption. Steroid or other types of pills may be used for more severe cases.
Phototherapy may also be prescribed. Phototherapy is a medical treatment in which your skin is carefully exposed to ultraviolet light. This may help your skin become used to (sensitized to) the sun.
Peter Wolf is in Vienna, Austria. Wolf is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Polymorphous Light Eruption. He is also highly rated in 22 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Polymorphous Light Eruption, Pustular Psoriasis, Psoriasis, and Contact Dermatitis.
Alexandra Wackernagel-Gruber is in Graz, Austria. Wackernagel-Gruber is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Polymorphous Light Eruption. She is also highly rated in 3 other conditions, according to our data. Her top areas of expertise are Polymorphous Light Eruption, Pustular Psoriasis, Parapsoriasis, and Pityriasis Lichenoides Chronica.
Vijaykumar Patra is in Graz, Austria. Patra is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Polymorphous Light Eruption. They are also highly rated in 1 other condition, according to our data. Their top areas of expertise are Polymorphous Light Eruption, Psoriasis, Atopic Dermatitis, and Pustular Psoriasis.
Many people become less sensitive to sunlight over time.
Call for an appointment with your provider if PMLE symptoms do not respond to treatments.
Protecting your skin from the sun can help prevent PMLE symptoms:
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Published Date: June 19, 2021
Published By: Ramin Fathi, MD, FAAD, Director, Phoenix Surgical Dermatology Group, Phoenix, AZ. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
Ling TC. Polymorphic light eruption. In: Lebwohl MG, Heymann WR, Coulson IH, Murrell DF, eds. Treatment of Skin Disease: Comprehensive Therapeutic Strategies. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 196.
Patterson JW. Reactions to physical agents. In: Patterson JW, ed. Weedon's Skin Pathology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Limited; 2021:chap 22.