Photodermatitis/Polymorphic Light Eruption | ProHealth Fibromyalgia, ME/CFS and Lyme Disease Forums

Photodermatitis/Polymorphic Light Eruption

ProHealth CBD Store


New Member
I'm curious how many of us here are photosensitive....I usually go to the tanning bed for 4 months out the year. I never get real dark, just enough to look alive, lol. However, every time I try to start tanning I get an annoying rash on my chest, (not on the rest of my body) that eventually fades in a few days. Sometimes it is itchy. Sometimes I also feel like I have a slight fever (even if I really don't) after exposure, and feel rather crappy until I adjust, but I'm not sunburnt though! I have read that these symptoms are called Photodermatitis or Polymorphic Light Eruption. It seems like after my body "adjusts" and gets a base tan, the rash stops occurring. It's just really wierd. I've read this is an allergenic immune system response to certain chemicals in the skin that somehow change when exposed to light. And of course certain medications will increase this. I'm just interested to hear about others experiences with this. I'm a little concerned that I might really be aggravating my immune system by doing this. Any thoughts?



New Member
My daughters get the same rash. They only get it in the early spring when they first start going outside in short-sleeves and shorts. They are both very fair skinned, and neither tan much. After they get a 'base' tan, they no longer get this rash. They are miserable when they get this rash (everywhere they are exposed), it itches terrible!! It lasts about 2-3 days. I have always just assumed it was some sort of allergy/sun sensitivity???

I have been concerned that they may have FM. Does anyone eles get this??? I do to a lesser degree, and it doesn't last more than 24 hours. Could this be another FM thing????? *sigh*

PMLE (or PLE) is an acquired disease and thought to be an allergic reaction following the interaction of (ultraviolet A/UV-A) sunlight with proteins in the skin. It is not the same as prickly heat and skin can be affected through window glass or thin clothing. It usually occurs in spring or on a vacation in a sunnier climate, after the limited exposure of skin during winter months.

Sun exposure can trigger the rash reaction within a few minutes to several hours, depending on skin type - fair skin is more susceptible. Small red pimples and blisters appear on the skin usually within 1 to 4 days after exposure to sunlight. They typically disappear within 2 weeks, as skin becomes conditioned (thickened) known as "hardening phenomenon". It most commonly appears on the chest, arms and legs, but not the face or hands. It does not produce scarring, but can be painful or annoying. It is not considered serious or infectious, nor does it increase the chances of skin cancer. It can cause a mild flu-like feeling and fever, much like you experience with a sunburn. That said, I can see why many would associate a PMLE reaction with FMS/CFIDS, because it would seem like a mild flare of the familiar symptoms.

You use the same precautions as you normally would to protect your skin from overexposure to sunlight. Anti-itch products, such as Calamine lotion (with Benadryl) or topical hydrocortisone creams (Cortaid) can be used to relieve the itching. Occasionally a physician may prescribe steroid medications in severe cases. Use of pain and/or fever reducing OTC drugs may be helpful, too.

One of it's forms can be the first sign of Lupus Erythematosus, but I did not find any connection to FMS.

Hope this helps,

[This Message was Edited on 05/14/2003]


New Member
Thank you for the helpful information. Guess the trick is taking exposure slowly (which is always hard when you want to get tan ASAP!!!). Hopefully I'm not hurting my immune system, that's all I'm concerned about. The rash always goes away thank goodness.