Not only can the sun give me cancer, but it can also make me itchy.
February 27, 2012 6:31 AM Subscribe
Do you have Polymorphic Light Eruption (PMLE), where your skin breaks into an itchy rash at least once a year when you're out in the sun? How do you deal with it?
posted by Viola to health & fitness (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I've always been fair-skinned and have a family history of skin cancer (sometimes fatal). I take precautions: SPF 40 in the winter, SPF 60 in the summer, long sleeves in the bright sun, big hats, no tanning, and so forth.
I thought I was pretty well-prepared for our honeymoon in Thailand, and was extra careful to slather on the sunscreen every 1-2 hours. I stayed out of the light when possible, but hell, it's Thailand and I'm not going to be a vampire. However, 12 days into our trip, my husband and I went on an afternoon bike tour in Chiang Mai, and hours later I had developed the itchiest, angriest rash on all parts of my skin that had been exposed to the sun.
Research and my dermatologist confirm that I indeed have PMLE, which sounds annoying but less worrisome than my skin cancer risks. It's been over a week and the rash is fading, but still itchy and unattractive. It's been quite a hassle, which is why I'm surprised to discover that an estimated 10% of the population has PMLE! If it's so irritating and occurs annually, how have I never heard of it? I'm also unhappy to learn that this could happen every time I'm out in bright sun from now on, or at least once a year when it starts getting sunny.
My question is this: is it possible that the intense Southeast Asian sunlight triggered an extreme reaction, and now that I'm back in a temperate NYC climate I'm at less of a risk? Or is it that the equatorial sun flipped a switch in my system and now I'll get it each and every summer? Has anyone had a PMLE reaction once and never again? And lastly, if you do have this stupid condition, how do you handle prevention and treatment. None of my methods (cortisone cream, lotion, cold baths, benadryl) did much good, and I had to wait it out while waking up every morning with the sheets streaked in blood because I scratched so vigorously in my sleep. Any advice is welcome.