Skin Care and Treatments of Melbourne Dermatology - Polymorphous Light Eruption

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Polymorphous Light Eruption

Polymorphous Light Eruption

In addition to the acute and chronic effects of sunlight, a variety of unusual reactions may occur soon after only a brief sun exposure.

Polymorphous light eruption ("PMLE") is an unusual reaction to light that does not seem to be associated with systemic disease or drugs.

Eruptions appear on sun-exposed areas, usually 30 minutes to several hours after exposure.

Lesions are pruritic, erythematous, and often papular but may be papulovesicular or plaque-like.

Polymorphous light eruptions are most common among women and people from northern climates when first exposed to spring or summer sun than among those exposed to sun year-round.

Lesions subside within several days to approximately one week.

Actinic prurigo is a similar (perhaps related) phenomenon with more nodular-appearing lesions that may persist year-round, worsening with sun exposure.

Diagnosis is made by history, skin findings, and exclusion of other photosensitivity disorders.

Often, lesions are self-limited and spontaneously improve as summer progresses.

Treatment is by moderating sun exposure and antihistamines and/or applying topical corticosteroids if the rash is uncomfortable.

More severely affected patients may benefit from desensitization by graduated exposure to UV light with PUVA or narrow band UVB (312 nm) phototherapy.

Oral immunosuppressive therapy (such as prednisone) can be appropriate for those with disabling disease.

The anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and betacarotene may also be used in treatment.

Progressive, incremental sun exposure in the spring, and avoiding intense exposure, is usually the best way to prevent polymorphous light eruptions.

Optimal sunscreen use, sun avoidance and protecting affected areas with UV-rated (UPF 40+) clothing can also prevent eruptions.

Polymorphous light eruption is generally the result of both UVB and UVA, therefore sunscreens providing higher and long-lasting UVA protection are preferable.


Polymorphous Light Eruption — Cotz with Iron Oxide

Cotz Sunscreens (particularly Cotz Total Block SPF 65 Clear and SPF 60 Tinted, which contain iron oxide in addition to zinc oxide, titanium dioxide and various photoprotective antioxidants to block the complete light spectrum) have been specially developed by Fallene for photosensitivity disorders.


Heliocare and other photoprotective antioxidants may reduce the severity of Polymorphous light eruption.

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