The term "eruption" refers to the development of a rash, which usually appears within minutes to hours — although sometimes after a couple of days — after exposure to sunlight. The rash appears most often on areas of the body that are usually covered during winter and exposed in summer: the upper chest, front of the neck and the arms.
Characteristics of the rash may include:
- Dense clusters of small bumps
- Raised rough patches
- Itching or burning
- Blistering and swelling (less common)
Rarely people may have other signs or symptoms, such as fever, chills, headache or nausea. These conditions may be the result of an associated sunburn rather than polymorphous light eruption.
When to see a doctor
See your doctor if:
- You have any rash with no obvious cause, such as a known allergy or known exposure to poison ivy.
A number of conditions — including some serious diseases — can cause skin rashes with similar appearances. It’s important to get a prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Seek immediate medical care if your rash is:
Feb. 24, 2011
- Accompanied by fever
- Habif T. Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2009. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/page.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-7234-3541-9..00028-6--s0355&isbn=978-0-7234-3541-9&type=bookPage§ionEid=4-u1.0-B978-0-7234-3541-9..00028-6--s0355&uniqId=227127777-3#4-u1.0-B978-0-7234-3541-9..00028-6--s0355. Accessed Nov. 18, 2010.
- Honigsmann H. Polymorphous light eruption. Photodermatology, photoimmunology & photomedicine 2008;24:155.
- Facts about sunscreens. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.aad.org/media/background/factsheets/fact_sunscreen.htm. Accessed Nov. 18, 2010.
- Bylaite M, et al. Photodermatoses: Classification, evaluation and management. The British Journal of Dermatology 2009;161(suppl 3):61.
- Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/sec04/ch032/ch032g.html. Accessed Nov. 19, 2010.
- Photosensitivity. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/sec10/ch115/ch115c.html. Accessed Nov. 19, 2010.
- Sun-protective clothing: Wear it well. Federal Trade Commission. http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt094.shtm. Accessed Nov. 18, 2010.