What is polymorphic light eruption?

6 March 2018
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6 March 2018, Comments: 0

Polymorphic light eruption is a common form of skin rash brought about by contact with sunlight or from an artificial source of UV light. Generally, a prickly or sweltering rash forms in just hours or 2-3 days after being exposed to sunlight. In most cases, it can last for 2 weeks and heals without any scars.

The irritation typically manifests on regions of the skin that was exposed to sunlight such as the chest, arms, head and neck.

Characteristics of the rash

The rash brought about by polymorphic light eruption can take on various forms:

  • In most cases, an individual develops crops of 2-5 mm pinkish or reddened elevated spots
  • Some develop blisters that turn into big, dried reddened patches
  • The skin patches appear as a target or “bull’s eye” in some cases

Polymorphic light eruption is prevalent among women than men. It is likely to affect those who are fair, but also those with dark skin. The condition generally starts at the ages of 20-40 years but can also affect children.

polymorphic light eruption

Some develop blisters that turn into big, dried reddened patches.

Management of polymorphic light eruption

Remember that there is no available cure for polymorphic light eruption but avoidance of sun exposure and applying sunscreen can manage the rash.

Generally, it is vital to avoid the sun between 11am-3pm and use protective clothing when outdoors.

  • Sunscreen – these must be given to prevent the rash from forming. It is recommended to use one with SPF 30 or higher with good UVA rating. It must be applied thickly and evenly distributed as well as reapplying often.
  • Steroid ointments and creams – the doctor might prescribe a corticosteroid cream or ointment that is applied once the rash manifests. It should be applied carefully as instructed by the doctor and never if there is no rash.
  • Desensitization or UV treatment – oftentimes, the resistance of the skin to the sun can be increased. This skin is gradually exposed to UV light every visit to build up the resistance of the skin.
  • Toughening or hardening – the resistance of the skin can also be increased while at home which is called as hardening. The process involves moving outdoors for brief periods during spring to establish resistance.
  • Vitamin D – an individual with polymorphic light eruption is at higher risk for vitamin D deficiency since a certain degree of sun exposure is necessary to allow the body to produce vitamin D.

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