Polymorphous Light Eruption

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2017:996:61-70. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-56017-5_6.


Polymorphous light eruption (PLE) is the commonest immuno-mediated photodermatosis. It occurs after solar or artificial UV-light exposure and affects only the sun-exposed areas with preference of the V-area of the chest, of arms and forearms, legs, upper part of the back, and rarely the face. The lesions are itching or burning, and vary morphologically from erythema to papules, vesico-papules and occasionally blisters, plaques, sometimes erythema multiforme-like, insect bite-like wheals and purpura. The clinical manifestations befall within a few hours to days from light exposure, last a few days, and subside in about a week without sequelae. Its diagnosis is based on history, morphology and phototests. PLE is considered as a delayed hypersensitivity response to newly UV induced, but still unidentified, antigen(s). Usually, MED is normal, but the provocative phototests with UVA or UVB reproduce the spontaneous lesions in about 50% of the patients. Broad spectrum sunscreens and antioxidants, photohardening with PUVA or narrow band UVB may be beneficial to prevent the disease. Therapy is based mainly on topical or systemic corticosteroids.

Keywords: Idiopathic photodermatosis; Immunomediated photodermatosis; Minimal erythema dose; Photoprovocation tests; Phototests; Polymorphous light eruption; UV light.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity, Delayed / diagnosis
  • Hypersensitivity, Delayed / etiology*
  • Hypersensitivity, Delayed / immunology
  • Hypersensitivity, Delayed / prevention & control
  • PUVA Therapy
  • Photosensitivity Disorders / diagnosis
  • Photosensitivity Disorders / etiology*
  • Photosensitivity Disorders / immunology
  • Photosensitivity Disorders / prevention & control
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin / immunology
  • Skin / pathology
  • Skin / radiation effects*
  • Sunlight / adverse effects*
  • Sunscreening Agents / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects*


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Antioxidants
  • Sunscreening Agents