Polymorphous light eruption treatment usually isn't necessary because the rash typically goes away on its own within a few days to a week or more.
- Anti-itch cream. Your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter anti-itch cream, such as a cream containing at least 1 percent hydrocortisone. If you're experiencing severe itch or pain, your doctor may prescribe a more potent corticosteroid cream.
- Pain relievers. An over-the-counter pain medication may help reduce redness, itchiness or pain. These include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve, others).
Your doctor may suggest light therapy (phototherapy) to prevent seasonal episodes of polymorphous light eruption. Phototherapy exposes your skin to small doses of UVA or UVB light, which helps your skin be less sensitive to light — essentially a controlled version of the increased exposure you would experience over the course of the summer.
One type of light therapy called psoralen plus ultraviolet A (PUVA) combines UVA with administration of a medicine called psoralen, which makes the skin more sensitive to this light. Short-term side effects of this therapy may include nausea, headache and itching.
April 10, 2014
- Elmets CA. Polymorphous light eruption. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 6, 2013.
- Photosensitivity. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dermatologic_disorders/reactions_to_sunlight/photosensitivity.html#v961913. Accessed Nov. 14, 2013.
- Honigsmann H. Polymorphous light eruption. Photodermatology, Photoimmunology & Photomedicine. 2008;24:155.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed Nov. 6, 2013.
- Sunscreen FAQs. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.aad.org/media/background/factsheets/fact_sunscreen.htm. Accessed Nov. 14, 2013.
- Bissonnette R, et al. Influence of the quantity of sunscreen applied on the ability to protect against ultraviolet-induced polymorphous light eruption. Photodermatology, Photoimmunology & Photomedicine. 2012;28:240.
- Sun protective clothing. American Melanoma Foundation. http://www.melanomafoundation.org/prevention/clothing.htm. Accessed Nov. 14, 2013.
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