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Polymorphic Light Eruption (PLE)
PLE is estimated to affect 10-20% of the population.
The skin becomes abnormally sensitive to sunlight especially UVA rays, causing an itchy, red rash and a variety of skin eruptions. For many people this can mean the difference between enjoying the sun or spending the summer months in the shade. Uvistat is medically approved for people suffering from sun sensitive skin and polymorphic light eruption. Below are visual appearances of PLE:
Polymorphic Light Eruption (PLE) also thought by some as “heat rash”. Polymorphic Light Eruption occurs in response to sunlight after a period in time in which the skin has been exposed to the sun.
It is caused by Ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) or visible light. As such it can even occur from sunlight through a window. The term Polymorphic indicates the variable nature of the rash but, for any individual, the rash will tend to be constant on its outset from year to year.
It is a fairly common condition, effecting up to 15% of people in the UK. It is more common on those with fair skin and tends to affect women more often than men. Age onset is usually between 20-40 years, but can affect younger children. There is a positive family history with PLE in approximately 15% of cases diagnosed. There could be a higher incidence rate as may cases will go undiagnosed “heat rash”. There is evidence that it is related to a compound found in the spring – a form of hypersensitivity. UV exposure causes a contact hypersensitivity response – which is normally suppressed by the release of immunosuppressive cytokines from keratinocytes. In women it is believed the release of estrodyl suppresses the response, thus leading to a higher incidence rate in females.
PLE usually presents itself in the spring, or when sunlight increases. The rash varies, but will normally present itself the same way in the individual: Typically a sudden onset of a rash within hours of exposure to sunlight. The rash will normally persist for a week , but can go on for longer periods. Symptoms can recur during the summer. The most common form is a rash of pink or red raised spots about 2-5mm on the arms, chest, back or lower legs. Other presentations can include – a dermatitis type rash with dry red patches, erythema, in darker skinned people it can have pinpoint pustules., it will be itchy and burning. There can even be cases diagnosed in the winter months.
Diagnosis can be through photo testing to determine which type of light the skin is sensitive to – which involves irradiating the skin with UVA/UVB or visible light. In severe cases a skin biopsy will be taken.
Protection from sunlight , the use of high factor sun creams – protective clothing in the more severe cases. Allowing the gradual exposure to sunlight, to acclimatise the skin. A short course of oral steroids.
Most people can avoid PLE if precautions are used – in most cases a high factor sun cream.