polymorphous light eruption, PMLE

This is something of a strange disease, that we almost never see in southern climes. It appears within hours to a day or two after the first exposure of the spring season to intense ultraviolet light in a susceptible individual. It consists of an eruption of raised pink patches of skin, usually symmetrically distributed on the body. Since the face and backs of the hands usually get some sun even in the winter, those areas don't erupt. A susceptible person - most often a girl - is first exposed to UV in sunlight, the rash erupts. It may erupt in this way every spring for years. Each year, the skin becomes used to the UV light of the sun, the rash fades; the next year, the same thing happens again.

The eruption is called "polymorphous" because while each patient tends to break out with the same lesions on all exposed skin ("monomorphous," or same shaped), different patients may have quite different rashes (i.e. "polymorphous," differently shaped).

This eruption is probably bound for the dermatologist's office, if for no other reason than the differential diagnosis, which can include atopic dermatitis, erythema multiforme, and lupus erythematosus, among others.

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