A little warning for the fair of skin.
If you have never heard about Polymorphous light eruption, let us share this bit of information, its important.
This past Saturday our founder Thomas Bliss was on a training mission with the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary. If you recall June 4th was a glorious day, full sun, as good as it gets here in the PNW.
Thomas like most of us has been indoors or under heavy cloud cover for several months. On Saturday he was on a white decked boat in the sun for a full 8 hours. Thomas admits he did not apply enough sunscreen for the conditions and ended up with what looked like a traditional sunburn. But the following days it turned into something much worse “Polymorphous light eruption” or PMLE.
Thomas’s face and lips look like a burn victim, and almost as painful, especially the lips.
The cause is unknown. Doctors think it is a type of delayed allergic reaction. It is common among young women who live in moderate (temperate) climates. I guess that would be us here in Washington State.
Polymorphous means taking on different forms, and eruption means rash. As the name suggests, symptoms of PMLE are rash-like and are different in different people.
PMLE most often occurs in spring and early summer on areas of the body exposed to the sun.
Symptoms usually appear within 1 to 4 days after exposure to sunlight. They include any of the following:
Small bumps (papules) or blisters
Redness or scaling of the skin
Itching or burning of the affected skin
Swelling, or even blisters
Steroid creams or ointments containing vitamin D may be prescribed by your health care provider. They are used 2 or 3 times a day. Steroid or other types of pills may be used for more severe cases.
Phototherapy may also be prescribed. Phototherapy is a medical treatment in which your skin is carefully exposed to ultraviolet light. This may help your skin become used to (sensitized to) the sun.
Many people become less sensitive to sunlight over time.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call for an appointment with your provider if PMLE symptoms do not respond to treatments.
To prevent PMLE symptoms:
Avoid sun exposure during hours of peak sun ray intensity.
Use sunscreen. Sun protection with broad spectrum sunblock that works against UVA rays is important.
Apply generous amounts of sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Pay special attention to your face, nose, ears, and shoulders.
Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure so that it has time to penetrate the skin. Re-apply after swimming and every 2 hours while you are outdoors.
Wear a sun hat.
Wear sunglasses with UV protection.
Use a lip balm with sunscreen.
So…. As we prepare to enjoy our summer, remember a sunburn may be the least of your worries. Wear Sunscreen!
Have a great summer.