Dermatologists and Skin Care

Polymorphic Light Eruptions (PMLE) - Causes and Treatment

Written by Dr. Suvash Sahu and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Image: Polymorphic Light Eruptions (PMLE) - Causes and Treatment

PMLE is idiopathic, sunlight, or artificial light-induced cutaneous eruptions, ranging from papulovesicular lesions to large plaques, mainly localized to the photo-exposed areas of our body. It occurs, particularly at temperate latitudes. Cutaneous eruptions occur intermittent and follow specific sun exposure or artificial ultraviolet radiation, that usually extends from minutes to hours or rarely days. The eruptions may last for days to a week after the exposure ceases.

It affects individuals of all races. PMLE affects women twice frequently than men of all ages, the prevalence in the general population is inversely related to the latitude, it is most common in temperate regions. It is due to the hardening phenomenon, experienced by patient residing in hot climates. The risk of developing PMLE is highest with Fitzpatrick's skin type 1 (fair skin), and lowest prevalence is seen in people with skin type 4 and above (darker complexion).

Clinical Features:

In PMLE, pruritus almost always occurs within minutes, and then chronic recurrent eruptions are seen on the photo-exposed sites, though some light-exposed parts may be spared. Lesions more commonly occur in early summer, and gradually improve as the season progresses, due to the hardening effects. Sun exposure for few minutes to several hours is required to initiate the development of lesions, but the lesions become visible only several hours after sun exposure.

Typically, affected sites include the bridge of the nose, malar areas of the cheeks, the tip of the chin, side and back of the neck, upper chest, dorsum of hands, dorsolateral aspects of the arms, front and back of the legs and dorsum of the feet. Lesional distribution and morphology vary with patients.


  • Avoid midday sunlight exposure.
  • Restrict use of broad spectrum and high protection sunscreen.


  • A short course of topical or oral steroids.
  • In the event of repeated attacks, a prophylactic course of low dose PUVA therapy (Phototherapy), using 311nm UVB is the treatment of choice.

For more information consult a skin disorder specialist online -->

Last reviewed at: 07.Sep.2018



Do you have a question on Skin Disorder or Skin Care?
* guaranteed answer within 4 hours.

Related Questions & Answers

Nails appear to be unfixed in the skin. Can this issue be treated?
Query: Hello doctor, My friend's daughter is suffering from nails problem in both hands and legs. She is a 14-year-old girl now. The problem started when she was a 2-year-old baby. The nails appear to be unfixed in the skin because they would easily be pulled out when they are stuck in clothes' fabric, fo...  Read Full »
Dr. Ashwini V Swamy

Answer: Hello, Welcome to I saw the clinical picture (attachment removed to protect patient identity). It looks like twenty nail dystrophy. This is a clinical diagnosis. Some cases are genetic and some are acquired. The cause for the nail dystrophy is not very well known. Some of the systemi...  Read Full »
Skin Care Tips To Win Over Winter
Article Overview: This article discusses a few tips to manage and protect your skin during winter.  Read Article »
Dr. Anagha Kumar

Skin, the largest and the most attractive organ of our body faces a lot of challenges during winters. Cold, dry winters tend to steal the moisture from your skin making it appear flaky, dry and dull. There are also a few diseases like psoriasis and atopic dermatitis that have an increased incidence ...  Read Article »
I get red cysts on my face. Is it acne or rosacea?
Query: Hello doctor, I am a 25 year old male. I am 6'1" tall and I weigh 170 pounds. Often, I get red cysts of some sort on my face beneath the skin that take a while to heal. I have oily skin, and get whiteheads as well. I have fluid-filled boil-like lesions on my face. I have been to a few dermatologist...  Read Full »
Dr. Kakkar S
Dermatologist, HIV AIDS Specialist, Venereologist

Answer: Hello, Welcome to Rosacea is a skin disorder that affects people above 30 years. Other than acne-like lesions, people with rosacea have redness of the face and dry skin associated with burning sensation. They also have redness and irritation in the eyes. The redness of the face is a...  Read Full »
Skin Care Tips to Avoid Pimples
Article Overview: This article provides simple skin care tips to stay away from pimples.  Read Article »
Dr. Vinay Kumar

Medical Name: Acne vulgaris Pimples or acne is a common skin condition of adolescents and teenagers due to blockage of pores of oil producing glands which results in blackheads, bumps and nodules on the skin of face, upper arms, and trunk. The severity, duration, and the distribution of pimples ma ...  Read Article »
Palmoplantar Keratoderma - Causes and Treatment
Article Overview: This article discusses the general aspects of the commonly occurring skin disorder, palmoplantar keratoderma.  Read Article »
Dr. Suvash Sahu

Palmoplantar keratoderma is a commonly encountered problem in day to day practice. This disease presents as a distressing thickened skin with fissured pattern, intermingled with recurrent eczema like flare up. Causes: The causes could be either. Exogenous or external factors like irritants, all ...  Read Article »
What is the reason for recurring white spots on my genital area?
Query: Hello doctor, I have had white spots on my genital area for the past one year. They are not bumps but just spots. They do not itch or smell. They are only just visible. After applying a cream such as Beclomin for prolonged periods, it goes away but once I stop, it starts to appear again.  Read Full »
Dr. Muhammad M. Hanif Md.

Answer: Hi, Welcome to This seems to be related to some atypical skin lesions that respond well to Beclomin (Beclomethasone and Miconazole nitrate) (attachment removed to protect patient identity). These can or cannot be sexually transmitted disease-related symptoms. It depends on proper eval...  Read Full »

Ask a Doctor Online

* guaranteed answer within 4 hours

Related Tags