Self-care measures that may help ease your signs and symptoms include:

  • Applying anti-itch cream. Try an over-the-counter (nonprescription) anti-itch cream, which may include products containing at least 1 percent hydrocortisone.
  • Taking antihistamines. If itching is a problem, oral antihistamines may help.
  • Using cold compresses. Apply a towel dampened with cool tap water to the affected skin, or take a cool bath.
  • Leaving blisters alone. To speed healing and avoid infection, leave blisters intact. If needed, you can lightly cover blisters with gauze.
  • Taking a pain reliever. An over-the-counter pain medication may help reduce redness or pain. These include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve, others).

To lessen the likelihood of recurring episodes of polymorphous light eruption, take the following precautions:

  • Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Because the sun's rays are most intense during this time, try to schedule outdoor activities for other times of the day.
  • Use sunscreen. Fifteen to 30 minutes before going outdoors, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen, one that provides protection from both UVA and UVB light. Use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Apply sunscreen generously, and reapply every two hours — or more often if you're swimming or perspiring. If you're using a spray sunscreen, be sure to cover the entire area completely. Cover up. For protection from the sun, wear tightly woven clothing that covers your arms and legs and a broad-brimmed hat, which provides more protection than does a baseball cap or golf visor.

    Consider wearing clothing designed to provide sun protection. Look for clothes labeled with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of 40 to 50. Follow care instructions on the label of UV-blocking clothes to maintain their protective feature.

Aug. 03, 2017
  1. Elmets CA. Polymorphous light eruption. Accessed Nov. 4, 2016.
  2. Photosensitivity. Merck Manual Professional Version. Accessed Nov. 4, 2016.
  3. Honigsmann H. Polymorphous light eruption. Photodermatology, Photoimmunology & Photomedicine. 2008;24:155.
  4. AskMayoExpert. Polymorphous light eruption (PMLE). Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2016.
  5. Sunscreen FAQs. American Academy of Dermatology. Accessed Nov. 4, 2016.
  6. 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.
  7. Sun protective clothing. American Melanoma Foundation. Accessed Nov. 4, 2016.
  8. Sunscreen and sun protection. Food and Drug Administration. Accessed Nov. 7, 2016.
  9. Gibson LE (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 16, 2016.
  10. Feldman SR. Targeted phototherapy. Accessed Nov. 8, 2016.
  11. Murphy F, et al. Treatment for burn blisters: Debride or leave intact? Emergency Nurse. 2014;22:24.
  12. Sunscreens. American Academy of Dermatology. Accessed Nov. 8, 2016.

Polymorphous light eruption