PMLE Alternative Treatments for Sun Lovers
April 7, 2012

The list of preventive solutions I have tried throughout the past 10 years to avoid PMLE.

Polymorphous light eruption (PMLE) is the most common sun allergy. If you suffer from PMLE, chances are beaches and exotic hideaways might not be your favourite vacation destinations. Despite the fact common preventive therapy (avoiding sunlight, wearing long clothes) usually prevents sun rashes from reappearing, I just couldn’t resign myself.  Winters are too long and hard! I want to enjoy every single day of summer I can. I love the ocean, walking hours on the beach, scuba diving, surfing and sailing. PMLE has affected every single vacation I’ve had since the age of 12.

Throughout the past 10 years, I have spent a good amount of time researching alternative treatments. I’ve consulted my dermatologist and have tried each and every PMLE alternative treatment I could find. I was committed to finding a solution. And now, I can share with you the results of my experiments. Those of you suffering from PMLE will understand the emotional distress I’ve experienced, but it has also given me the motivation to try something new every year.

Here is a list of preventive solutions I have tried in the past in the hopes of avoiding the sun rash completely. Note that even if it is not mentioned, I always applied sun protection with a high SPF. Although topical cortisone helped treat the skin rash in the past, it is not preventive and I want to avoid using it on my skin in the long term due to the side effects.

Polymorphous light eruption (PMLE), otherwise termed Polymorphic light eruption (PLE), is a skin complaint caused by sunlight, which usually appears as an itchy rash on sun-exposed skin. It is the most common sun allergy, affecting people of all ethnic backgrounds. In temperate climates (4 seasons), PMLE is common during the spring and summer months.


Name: Avène Broad Spectrum 90 SPF Sunscreen (for sun intolerant skin)
Doses: Apply every 2 hours and after swimming/sweating
Success rate (on a scale from 0 to 5): 1
Comments: Help to block UVA/UVB, unfortunately this sunscreen alone didn’t prevent PMLE for me.  Avène is a very thick cream that I found difficult to apply.


Name: Selenium, Vitamin E and Beta-Carotene all-in-one tablets
1 tablet twice a day 2 weeks prior to vacation, and every day during a 3-week vacation
Success rate (on a scale from 0 to 5): 1


Name: Homeopatic treatment Boiron Muriaticum Acidum 7 CH
5 grains twice a day 2 weeks prior to vacation. Every day while on vacation.
Success rate (on a scale from 0 to 5): 0


Name: Coppertone Sport SPF 100 Sunscreen
Apply every 2 hours and after swimming/sweating
Success rate (on a scale from 0 to 5): 2
I applied this sunscreen specifically to areas I knew rashes were more severe. Although it helped, it didn’t prevent PMLE for me.


Name: Tanning bed sessions
5 to 7min every 2 days, 2 weeks prior to vacation.
Success rate (on a scale from 0 to 5): 2
I have a very light complexion and this was not enough to trigger PMLE. While on vacation, symptoms were not as bad as usual but were severe enough to limit my activities and cause a lot of discomfort.


Name: Eucerin Sun Allergy Protection Sun Creme-Gel SPF 25, beta-carotene and 500 mg niacinamide capsules
Apply every 2 hours and after swimming/sweating. 1 capsule of each daily, 3 weeks prior to vacation, and every day while on a vacation
Success rate (on a scale from 0 to 5): 4
The most effective treatment so far. I experienced rashes on some parts of my body where applying the lotion was more difficult (on my feet covered with sand and near the bathing suit), which suggests that the lotion was the effective treatment here. Unfortunately it’s not available in North America and I had to order it from Germany (which cost a fortune in shipping and custom fees!).  Most online distributors didn’t want to ship to Canada. Product seems to be back-ordered in most online store.


Name: Antihistaminic tablet (Claritin) 10mg loratadine USP
1 tablet daily while on vacation
Success rate (on a scale from 0 to 5): 2
  While it didn’t prevent PMLE for me, it did seem to help with the skin rash and itching.


Name: Tanning bed sessions
5 to 8 min every 2 days, 3 weeks prior to vacation
Success rate (on a scale from 0 to 5): 3
  Did not trigger PMLE but I did have a light tan before vacation. I went to Thailand for 3 weeks and was able to gradually expose my skin to sunlight. Symptoms were less severe but I did avoid sun exposure on torso and upper legs.


Name: Shirudo Antioxidant Body Lotion
Massage small quantity into skin every two hours while sun exposed.
Success rate (on a scale from 0 to 5): 5
  I formulate this lotion myself with a cosmetic chemist. It really prevent PMLE on me. I tested it in Cape Cod last july. I spent 7 days on the beaches, typically 5 to 6 hours of direct sun exposure everyday. I didn’t do anything else prior to vacation and didn’t use vitamin or topical corticosteroid. I wanted to be sure the effects were only from the lotion. From all the preventive treatments I’ve tried so far, it is the only solution that has reduced 90% of my symptoms. The only minor rash that appeared was under my arms and on the back of my thighs where lotion may have been removed by my towel. My advice is: Don’t be lazy if you use this. Apply every two hours before applying sunscreen. The results were definitely better with my lotion than with Eucerin Sun Allergy. Since it is not a suncreen I also apply it before going to bed and after morning shower just to make sure the reaction is not triggered at all. For me it is now the solution!

Conclusion and next experiment

So far the most effective solution for me was the use of Eucerin Sun Allergy Protection Sun creme-Gel SPF  25 with oral beta-carotene and niacinamide. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a vast improvement. The problem is that since the product is not available in North America, it is more and more difficult to find. I wrote to the company but never received a reply. And, the few online stores that do carry the product and will ship to Canada are not back-ordered. Considering that I will probably suffer from PMLE for another 25 years, this is hardly a solution for me. International shipping + custom/broker fees boost the price to $45 (CAD) for a 150ml bottle. Expensive and time consuming!
UPDATE JULY 2012: So far the most effective pmle treatment is Shirudo Antioxidant Body Lotion.
I have read a lot of studies involving PMLE patients and it seems like one of the most effective treatments involves a formulation containing alpha-glucosylrutin and Vitamin E with highly significant results (Hadshiew et alJeanmougin et al).

I have also heard great things  about the use of Polypodium leucotomos, also known as Anapsos, Calaguala (one of the active ingredient in Heliocare pills). Polypodium leucotomos is used to prevent certain skin problems including sunburn, eczema (atopic dermatitis) and psoriasis, vitiligo. I am considering it as part of my next experiment this summer and will definitely keep you posted on this one. If you’ve already tried Polypodium leucotomos, please let me know how it worked for you. [UPDATE 2017] Based on doctors recommendation I won’t try Heliocare since the use of it for more than a week have not been tested ever and we don’t know what it can cause to liver and system if used for more than a week.

Every PMLE is different, but hopefully some of these treatments might work for you. If you’ve tried some of these solutions or others, I would love to know what you thought. Leave a comment and share your story!

Leave a Reply


  1. Do you have any tips for getting rid of the rash once it occurs? I try to stay out of the sun but it appears I’m not even safe from light coming in from windows or from strong florescent lighting. My rashes seem to stay forever even if I keep them covered. I use cortisone cream and have tried oral steroids in the past but I’ve found my rashes stay for weeks.

    1. Hi Emile,
      cold compress were very useful when I use to have a PMLE rash. At Shirudo we also develop an Intensive Night Lotion with 50% more AGR in it. If Shirudo AGR+E is already effective then the Intensive Night Lotion will help get rid of a minor rash at night. It’s only available in USA and Canada for now.

  2. Just stumbled across this site and I am excited that this is from someone in Canada! I have had this issue for years and doctors and other people always assumed it was a stress reaction or a food allergy. I am from New Zealand and I was born on the beach so having this sun allergy is not something I wanted to hear. I don’t get the issue all of the time and when I moved to Australia and lived there for 8 years I would never get the reaction there, just every time I went home to NZ. Mine does not go all over my body, it is always around my lips and including my lips and is so incredibly painful when the swelling sets in. Having it on your face is rather embarrassing also so I would love to find a prevention! I have now lived in Canada for almost 2 years and this is the first time it has happened since living here. But my first full day in the sun and sure enough my lips became swollen and split and the skin all around my mouth has the little red blisters. I said to my sister that I thought it was the sun and she laughed, but then after looking up sun allergy, sure enough all arrows pointed to PMLE. I am currently using a cortisone cream (that I normally use for my dermatitis) and then polysporin on my lips (weird I know but I have highly sensitive lips!). When I put sunscreen on my face the other day it absolutely burned so I am needing to find a hypoallergenic high SPF sunscreen that is going to be suitable for my face. After reading some of these stories I guess I am lucky it is not normally for the whole summer… I hope it doesnt develop into that as I can’t live without the sun!

    1. Hi Sarah,
      at Shirudo we just launched a new face lotion and we are also working on a lip balm with AGR and vitamin E as well. The regular AGR+E lotion will surely make it since a lot of people use it on their face since we develop it, but the face lotion is specially formulated with anti-ageing ingredients. If you see good results with the regular one you should give it a try. I have seen many people with the rash on their lips, specially native americans. It seems to be a sub-category of PMLE. Personally I never get the rash on my face and most PMLE sufferers are like this. – Eloise

  3. Hi,
    I’m also a pmle victim and I live in India so the sun is normally present and hot. Apart from the tablet and propyzole ointment (which does reduce the itching and rash) there’s a thing called skin hardening. It literally doesn’t mean hardening but building immunity of the skin. My dermatologist had recommended an onabet lotion that you apply and go in the sun for 10-15mins daily and then on it the cream. Also the usual high spf sunscreen and full sleeves.
    Also for immediate relief of rash one can try applying a baking powder+water paste, it’ll reduce n relax the itching or turmeric with water paste on the rash. It helps reduce the itching sensation.

  4. Hi! What sunscreen do you use along with the Shirudo stuff? I am 41 and just diagnosed. Your website is a Godsend. Thanks!

  5. Hi Eloise and fellow sufferers
    I am also a recent vistim of PMLE although I have had a slight rash on my arms for a few years but nothing like what I am now suffer, it ihas almost ruined my last 2 hols. I only get the rash on my by arms just above and below the elbows on the front on both arms, but it is horrific both to look at and to suffer and i have tried quite a few things with no succcess although thanks to your article I have just ordered Eucerin as I am off to Majorca in 10 days… a glutten for punishment and the sun. My question is this…should I use the factor 50 on all of my exposed skin or only the areas where it flares up? i have a skin that tans easily and hate the thought of SPF 50 but I also do not want to have my arms looking like a local mountain range. thanks Sandra

    1. Hi Sandra,
      The difference in uv protection between SPF 30 and 50 is not that big. SPF 30 product blocks 97% of UVB rays; and an SPF 45 product blocks about 98% of rays. It might be less expensive to use a regular SPF 30 lotion for your body and reserve Eucerin SPF 50 only for sensitive areas. But it might also take more time for each applications… The most important is to use UV protection everywhere even if you don’t have a PMLE rash on your whole body.

      1. Thanks for your advice and I think I will stick to the SPF 50 everywhere, better safe than sorry. unfortunanly our summer has been very wet and overcast with little sunshine so i have not had the opportunity to get my arms out in the sun to ‘ harden’ but i will try to stay more covered in Majorca although I love lying in the sun with a book. You have been very helpful and I will let you know how I get on as I have also started to take an anti-histamine to see if that also helps.

  6. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. In the past 3 years my sun allergy has got worse since the use of a specific sun lotion. Looking forward to trying some of your suggestions!

  7. I have suffered with this for almost 40 years. The only year I escaped it was when a friend who had come back from a holiday in Greece gave me a lotion she had got while there. It was called calalotion (a mixture of calamine and oatmeal mainly but obviously other stuff too). She told me to apply it to my whole body every night for a week before my holiday. It was messy and smelly and my bed was a disaster. However it worked. I have never been able to find this stuff again so this year as well as antihistamines and carotene tablets before I go I am going to try Aveeno with oatmeal lotion. I have seen Shirudo advertised online and if Aveeno doesn’t work I’ll give that a go. I think though we have to accept that we are allergic to the sun and just have to cope with this in our own best way. Unfortunately there is no cure and I have found that what seems to work not too badly one year won’t necessarily work the next. However I have turned this into my lifetime work and if I come across anything that significantly helps I will be shouting from the rooftops.

  8. I’m saving this site, we have a family beach vacation coming up next month. As a sun lover with PMLE, you all can surely understand my anxiety. I have used the helio pills over the past year with limited to moderate success. My biggest problem seems to be my initial rash refuses to fully go away after several weeks. Last year I got a kenalong shot to help, and had a wicked “side effect”. I have pitting and atrophy at the injection site, which is about 2 inches wide and an inch deep. I never knew of this side effect. If anyone has suggestions on how to speed the rash healing along, I would be most grateful! I’m going to try to locate the shirudo. Thanks!

  9. Thank you. I’m currently dealing with my very first PMLE rash and I am miserable. I went to the beach in Florida for a few hours and two days later—Boom! The most intense itch I have ever experienced in my life. Im lying on a cold compress as we speak. My doctor suggested 5 day oral steroid tablets along with allergy meds, and hydrocordisone cream for now. The cream only seems to last for a moment for me. Thank you again for your help. I can’t wait until this goes awaaaay! No more beaches for me for a while.

  10. Thank u so much for the information. I greatly appreciate you taking the time to share. I too, have pmle… it’s very hard to deal with, so I do understand the struggle. Thanks again for sharing.
    P.S. hydrocortisone cream does help me, but only after the rash has already appeared.

  11. Thank you thank you thank you. I have been tortured with PMLE for the past ten years and feel that I am still no closer to a solution. Your trail of clues gives me some new hope and I am going to try them ASAP. Thank you for being generous with your learned wisdom.

  12. Thank you for your post! It is reassuring to know that I’m not the only one suffering from this condition. I’m just not ready to let go of my active lifestyle for my skin problems. I will def try the treatments you mentioned. Glad to see research and new treatments are being considered tested. Good luck to you!

  13. I really appreciate the suggestion. I’m relatively new to the PMLE experience as mine started a year ago with 35 years with no problems. It’s crushing to not be able to play outside with your kids without excruciating itching. I would like to give that Shirudo stuff a try, but according to the website, they no longer ship to the US. I hope I can find a reseller willing to ship here because I’ve tried most other things!

    1. Hi Jason, only the bottle with pump is unavailable in USA. You can order the small and big tubes, it’s the exact same formulation inside, just a different packaging.

  14. Thanks for the suggestions. I to suffer from PMLE. Its very annoying not to beable to go outside without having a breakout. It would be nice to have support groups for this. I started out with it 8 years ago and it seems to get worst each year. Im going to give some of these a try. THANKS AGAIN!!….Ms.Chavis

  15. I am in Thailand right now in the first week of a trip of a life time for 4 months and seem to have developed pmle. I don’t know what to do. Does anyone know where I can buy either eucerin cream or heliocare pills, or know any sunscreen brands that are free of those allergy-inducing ingredients? I might try having shirudo shipped to an address at a hostel in Bangkok if it comes to that. Who wants to spend a south east Asia trip covered from the sun for 4 months? I turned my life upside down for this trip. 🙁 very desperate at the moment.

    1. Hi Danielle,
      I’m so sorry to read this! You must know PMLE is related to sun exposure only, it is not triggered by ingredients in sunscreen. When it’s related to topical ingredients most of the time it’s drug induced photosensitivity or contact dermatitis. Shirudo AGR+E won’t help you with that. If it is PMLE, for most people the initial rash will last only for 10 to 15 days, once you have a light tan the skin get use to sun exposure (it is called ‘hardening’)and the rash usually don’t come back until the next year. Meanwhile if you can’t get your hand on Shirudo AGR+E or Eucerin Sun allergy, you can use cold compress, aloe vera and a light cortisone lotion to calm the itching.If you can get your hand on vitamin E pill (the one you can break open and you have liquid inside), mix it with your moisturizing lotion and apply at night. Topical Vitamin E alone won’t prevent the rash but can help a little. You must use broad spectrum sunscreen also. UV protection is very important in preventing PMLE.

  16. I have suffered from PMLE since I was 11 years old and it has been a burden. I recently moved to a Caribbean island for work and I was about to start diving lessons with my friends when I realized it might not be such a good idea because last month I was at the beach and all of the sudden my blood pressure dropped and my throat started to close, a side effect of PMLE in some people. It’s great to read about your experiences and experiments. I will try to find some of the products although it is very unlikely here in central America. If you find something else let us know!

    1. Hey Ana,
      thanks for the feedback! I’m glad you found the blog helpful. I’m very curious about these symptoms you had. I read a lot about solar urticaria, it’s a sun allergy that might look similar to PMLE but will show in less that 5 minutes of exposure. It’s a totally different condition. It is very rare and it might trigger symptoms very similar to anaphylaxis, like when you are allergic to nuts of bees. I have never heard of anyone with PMLE and such a sudden and severe reaction. Reading your comment Solar Urticaria is the first thing that came to my mind. Have you consult your doctor to make sure you do not suffer from something else than PMLE, or perhaps both conditions, if it’s even possible? Hoping you will find a treatment soon.

  17. Hi!! I’m new to the PMLE club! I have had intermittent rash and itchiness since moving to San Diego, CA almost 2 years ago. The dermatologist just suggested it is most likely PMLE so I am glad to finally know what it is, but am trying to adjust to it. They told me to apply sunscreen EVERY time I leave the house and reapply, but I have been finding that is really irritating to keep up with and I’m still trying to find a sunscreen I like that doesn’t feel too thick. They also mentioned to me today to try Heliocare. I am trying to research it and find out more about it’s effectiveness. I would like to try it before a prescription they also mentioned, Plaquenil. I am curious about the Shirudo Antioxidant lotion. I’ll be looking into that too. Anyway, just came across this as I was researching “PMLE and Heliocare”. Thanks a lot for sharing!!

    1. Thank you for sharing Alisha!

  18. Eloise, I feel like you are a God send. I am 44 years old and have never experienced anything like what I’m experiencing this spring/summer. Towards the end of April, my eyes started swelling, itching and turning all shades of red. They would flare up rather violently and then calm down only to start the process over again. It seemed like each time they flared up, it would be worse. Towards the end of May, I would simultaneously begin to develop an inflamed, red rash on my upper chest and neck as well. I’ve been to an ophthamologist, urgent care (twice), a dermatologist and an allergist. The allergist last week was the first time anyone has mentioned PMLE to me. I’ve had patch tests and done some eliminations to try and identify what my mysterious enemy is. To be honest, I’m not 100% convinced that I truly have PMLE. I realize that every situation/person is different, but there are quite a few discrepancies between what I’m experiencing and what a “typical” PLME looks like, but one thing I do know for absolutely certain is that exposure to sun makes my rash/eyes flare up. I’ve spent the last week completely out of the sun and am experiencing the most relief from my symptoms that I have since it all started. I have steroid ointments to use on my skin, and the allergist prescribed me prednisone, but I have not used any of that yet, and I’d prefer to avoid it. Regardless, whether I actually have PLME or something else, your site is the first in all the research I’ve done thus far to give any hope or practical advice. Thank you!! I have a feeling I’ll be doing lots of reading here.

    1. Thank you for sharing Jodi. I’m sorry it took me so long to reply… it seems like most of the latest comments were tagged as spam. Hoping you will find out exactly what condition you have. Thanks for the nice comments and I’m glad my blog was helpful.

  19. I’m so glad I found this page!!! My dermatologist diagnosed me with Pityriasis Rosea in 2012 but I never quite saw the symptoms that were listed like the Herald Patch that never goes away. I would get breakouts in direct high-UV sunlight especially after being out in the middle of the day. The only thing to calm the outbreak is prescription steroid cream which isn’t a good solution at all. I think I’ve finally found my answer in PMLE because it fits the description and photo’s perfectly. I will try taking Vitamin E and covering up even more than I do now which is tough because I moved to LA right after the 2012 diagnosis. Obviously I’m going to see my new Derm to confirm this, but I’m very relieved that I finally have an answer.

  20. Thanks for the informative page and for your endurance and persistence in trying to find a solution to this horrid condition. I am of mixed race and have suffered with pmle for 20 years. I am currently lying in the shade on day 5 of our family holiday in menorca. I’m suffering with the itchy rash on my shins, chest and arms after leaving my heliocare tablets behind in the UK. I think it was stimulated after a short walk along the beach 2 days ago even though I had broad spectrum spf 50 on. Last year My skin was clear due to the sun cream, heliocare tablets taken twice a day, daily cetirizine antihistamine and daily naproxen (an anti inflammatory taken for back pain but my GP thinks it may have helped my skin also). However, I also stayed in the shade all day until around 5pm. I will not forget this regime again as it really seemed to work for me. I would like to feel as if I can venture out into the sun a bit more though and so I will try out the shirodu lotion. Meanwhile, I wait for the rash to fade and I’m thankful that it doesn’t scar.

  21. Hi. I just purchased the Shirudo lotion – two bottles. I used to tan both indoor and out door (obviously, I stopped knowing it is not good for me). I decided to go a week ago because I have a vacation coming up. Just a couple of sessions. I am about to be 28 and for the first time EVER, I developed a reaction. I went a week later, and same thing (not as severe however). It should also be noted that even my first reaction was not terribly severe, but it did span my body and was spread throughout. There is no other explanation, it has to be PMLE.

    Basically, I am writing because I would like to know which sun block works best over this lotion. Of course I would like to get a tan on vacation, but I am scared that I will have a severe eruption when out of the country. This is all very new to me. A year ago I could spend weeks in the sun and be fine. I am quite stressed out from this.

    1. Hi Danielle, I’m sorry it took so long for my reply here, your comment like many other was tagged as spam and I only saw it this morning. You can have a look at the FAQ page on Shirudo’s website for the recommended sunscreen lotions. Thank you for sharing and I hope you find a solution soon!

  22. I am so happy that I found this page! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences, I now know I am not alone in this!! I’ve been living with what I’ve previously called them “sun hives” since I was about 12. The only thing the doctors have ever told me was that I had a “sun allergy” and that was that. I was told to wear long sleeves and stay out of the sun. They prescribed me some steroid cream but it actually made it worse. After reading through your articles and a few others, I truly believe I have PMLE or the genetic version. (My grandmother says my great grandmother had VERY similar symptoms, but was never diagnosed) I get hives on sun exposed skin: top of arms, hands, thighs, feet, chest and sometimes even top of my forehead along my hair line. The doctors would just tell me it was a “sun allergy” and to stay out of the sun and wear long sleeves and hats. I noticed a few years back that when I went tanning, it decreased my symptoms and I was actually able to stay outdoors for longer periods of time and one summer even hive free! I’m not one that really enjoys tanning beds, they are pricey and know long term affects are not good so I stopped going. Now this summer July 4th, I went to the beach and the hives came back about 3 hours into my beach vacation, I used a spf 30 sunscreen ,which after reading your articles now noticed it has oxybenzone, that I reapplied about every hour. I started to freak out because I had a vacation planned for a week at a music festival where there was hardly any shade besides in my cabin. That’s when I decided I was going to do some research..after reading your articles I had wished I had read it sooner!! I knew I wasn’t going to get the Shirudo lotion in time before I had to leave but ordered some immediately so I could have it when I got back. I then did some more reading and bought some oxybenzone free sunscreen, Heliocare pills, beta ceretone and Nicine vitamins as well as Claritin that I read may help reduce symptoms. I was so scared of being miserable and embarrassed like so many years before and being in a big crowd I hated everyone staring at my skin condition. After this past week of being in the sun and heat I was amazed.. My hives that formed from the 4th, only 4 days prior, stayed very faint and some disappeared all together. I did however get hives along my forehead, where I had sweat the most and to be honest forgot to reapply the sunscreen, as well as the top of my left ear where I actually completely forgot to apply the sunscreen altogether, so could have just been sun burnt. oops. I’m not sure what I was taking that helped but even tho I had a little breakout I was, for the most part, pain/ itch / sting free, which never happens if I have even the slightest of a reaction. I’m hoping that with the lotion I can be completely hive free for my next vacation, fingers crossed. I am thinking that maybe the oxybenzone was making my reaction worse or more prone. I know my condition has as lot more areas affected and that’s why I was maybe thinking of the genetic form of PMLE, but I was wondering what are your thoughts?

    1. Hi Tiffany,
      thank you for sharing. I’m glad you found my blog useful! 🙂 It’s a
      condition that affects so many different persons, finding your own “magic
      mix” is a long and hard quest. It took me so many years. So far all
      hereditary PMLE sufferers I know of have symptoms mostly on their face and
      lips, which rarely occurs in the most common form of PMLE. It also seems
      more severe. When you read research it seems to be most common among
      african Americans and Native Americans. But so far only 2 people mentioned
      this to me before using Shirudo lotion, it’s not a data we gather so I
      don’t have significant data to back this. Let me know how it goes on your
      next vacation using Shirudo. Fingers crossed it will help also. For sure
      always using a broad spectrum sunscreen is very important. PMLE is caused
      by UVs and not heat. If you already found a good sunscreen and you skin
      reacts well, it a very important piece of the puzzle. With time you will
      surely be able to get rid of one thing at the time to identify what really
      helps and what is a waste of time and money. I wish you the best of luck!


  23. My daughter has suffered from PMLE symptoms for several years while on holiday in hot climates, she is ok with UK summers. Have tried various brands of sunscreen over the years with no success controlling it. Last year tried Eucerin sun allergy protection cream-gel SPF 50 & for the first time the rash that usually appears on day 3 was significantly reduced to the point that we had to look for the tell tale red itchy spots/ patches. There were some small areas but they were easily managed with a calming zinc based cream bought in a local chemist abroad, no need for the usual steroid cream. Not sure if last year was a coincidence so taking the Eucerin sun allergy cream – gel SPF 50 to try again this year but also getting her to use a tan accelerator cream before going away as they are claimed to help prepare the skin for sun exposure & reviews claim it helps prevent Prickly Heat rash.

    1. Hi Pamela,
      it’s very important to differentiate Prickly Heat and PMLE, two completely different conditions. Prickly heat is caused by heat and affect sweat glands. It’s common among babies and toddlers.You will see this on areas that are not exposed to sun directly. PMLE on the other hand is caused by UVs and sun exposure. Most of the time you see PMLE only on sun exposed areas. If your daughter react well using Eucerin Sun Allergy there is good chance that it is PMLE in my opinion. Some people will have less severe rash if they gradually expose themselves to sun, prior to their big vacation. Unfortunately, so far studies have not shown any evidence that a tan accelerator could help reduce PMLE rash, and in fact no serious clinical studies have shown that they actually accelerate tanning at all. For sure a skin well hydrated will tan more easily but any moisturizing lotion can do the same.

  24. Where can I purchase this ?

    1. Hi Connie,
      you can visit for all information. It’s only sold online.

  25. Reading this makes me feel sane! For four years I have lived with crazy itching after sun and no doctor has been able to figure it out and nothing has helped. I have dreaded family vacations as I was left with the choice of joining in the fun and paying dearly, or missing out and staying itch free. Everything I read about PMLE fits my problem to a tee except one major thing: I have never had a visible rash. The onset, duration, “hardening” etc are all as described though. Every test result has come back negative for any other issues. Possible?

    1. Hi Jill, the term polymorphous indicates the variable nature of the rash. It can look quite different from people to people… but the constant seems to be “the rash”. I have never heard of a PMLE without a rash before. Again, I’m not a physician so I can’t say if it’s possible or not unfortunately… but the fact is you live with it so it must be something! Can you feel a clear difference from a sun exposed area to a a covered one? With a visible rash this is a good way to identify if it’s related to sunlight and not heat. When the itching was almost unbearable I used to take antihistamine pills (Claritin) and it helped. Aloe Vera and ice pack for a couple of minutes also helped with itching, but all this it not prevention. I don’t know if Shirudo AGR+E lotion would be effective for you since it’s not clearly a PMLE diagnosis.

  26. I really enjoyed reading all of these posting…I have been dealing with PMLE for over 27 years which started when I was 12 years old. Add insult to injury, I am also sensitive to most sunscreens. My PMLE swells and a very itchy rash develops that is hot to the touch and I become physically ill and cannot function. It starts in early spring and as the summer progresses it gets better (Hardening). I have tried many things….Hardening is the only thing so far that works for me, the only problem with this is it takes too long and is painful.

    This year I will be trying out some of these new suggestions. Thank you so much for sharing!

  27. I am so happy to find your article. My mother suffered from sun allergy for nearly 40 years now. In trying to find the solution, we tried aloe, mineral, vitamins, and so on, however non worked for her. Only solution was hat, long sleeve, and huge amount of sun screen on her face. Which does helped but she never dreamed about going to beach because of her sun allergy. I think I should definitely try to give her Shirudo Antioxidant Body Lotion a try. However, I am kind of wondering if her allergy is PMLE, since the photos on the google were so extreme, and her skin rash is that that bad. She does get itch and small rash does appear, but there is no complete redness on her skin. Anyway, I am so glad to find your article!

  28. This summer I am using Bioderma Photoderm LEB SPF30 125ml Sunscreen against Allergies and it is working great for me. I am not devoloping any rash. And it is a really great producht. I also used Eucerin and i found that it was verry sticky. When I was wearing it, mine legs became brown from all the sand that got stuck to my legs.

  29. Hi everyone,
    I have always loved the sun but wasn’t until my late 20’s that I started to suffer from what I think is pmle. I always used to think it was prickly heat but every holiday I go on it gets progressively worse! This resulted in me spending the night in a Cypriot hospital last year due to severe red hives covering my upper arms and chest. I never get my legs out unless on holiday but funnily enough I get the rash nowhere else but lupper arms and chest! The doctor said it was an allergy to soltan sunscreen but I’m not convinced! It only comes on about three days into sun exposure and isn’t itchy or painful like other pmle sufferers suggest. Anyone experienced anything similar. My gp at home suggested it was related to contraceptive medication but I’ve been taking that a lot longer than suffering from this rash! Heading to Tunisia in 3 weeks and absolutely dreading it!

    1. Hi Sam, pmle is usually very itchy, so far I never heard of anyone having pmle and not mentioning itchiness. Pmle sufferer’s skin can gradually get use to sun exposure, it is called skin hardening, meaning face and hands are usually not affected unless you have a genetic form of pmle. Knowing you never expose your legs to sun unless on vacation and you still don’t have a rash there is quite surprising and doesn’t look like pmle to me. Typical pmle rash will mostly affect previously unexposed areas of your skin. To rule out Photo Contact Dermatitis as your Doctor mentioned, you would have to test UV exposure without any other product containing possible allergenic product like oxibenzone for example. A dermatologist could do a UV photo-patch test and see if you are sensitive to any sunscreen or other cosmetic ingredients. Finding an accurate diagnosis is a long process for most people having a sun related allergy since they can only test it once a year while on vacation. For many years I did a lot of different tests while on vacation to find the cause of the rash, I also tough I was allergic to sunscreen at first. Since you end up at hospital last year your allergy looks pretty serious and it might be a better idea to have test run by a specialist in a controlled session and not try it yourself while on vacation.

      1. I thought that might be the case but looking at images of pmle my rash looks the same! It’s very confusing! I went to docs and they wouldn’t refer me to dermatologist just told me to never sit in sun! It’s wierd because as soon as I sit in the shade it goes away on about 30 mins! Sorry for troubling you if it isn’t pmle! Just searching for a reason I suppose! Thanks for your reply, very grateful x

        1. Hi Sam,
          it’s ok I’m glad you ask. This blog is about all types of sun allergies, not only PMLE so i’m sure your concern can help a lot of others. PMLE i the most common allergy so it’s for sure the first thing you want to look into.

          So you mean your rash disappears completely in 30 min ? Does it also appears in minutes after exposure? Timing of the reaction is usually the key factor to identify the problem. I really recommend you look at this great website by Dr. Robert Sarkany, photo-dermatologist:

          You can see that pmle rash won’t appear faster than an hour or so after first exposure. Personally my rash use to appear at the end of day 2 of my vacation, so approximately 30 to 48 hours after first sun exposure. PMLE is a delayed reaction. And the rash will take more than a week to disappear after. In my experience the appearance of the rash is not really a good indicator. I have seen so many PMLE pictures, sometime it looks like mine (grapefruit skin), sometimes it looks like big blisters filled with water, for some it looks like urticaria. If I were you I would definitely try to find a good dermatologist or an allergist doctor who will seriously try to identify the root cause. Simply avoiding sun exposure is a valid recommandation but for most people there is a way to identify the problem and get rid of the rash without avoiding sun exposure completely. Thank you for your comments and I wish you will soon find a good diagnosis!

    2. I am pleased to say that I have had a lovely summer holiday without ANY pmle.. considering I was in Egypt for the hottest part of summer I cannot be happier.
      Let me share with you what I did:

      By my dermatologist I was prescribed Mepacrine 100mg tablets one per day ( 7 days before my holiday and then continued while on holiday until I was home) VERY IMPORTANT for the 7 days before holiday. There are side effects for this drug, my urine did turn yellow which is a common side effect and also I was advised by the doctor to have an eye test before taking the tablets. Also I was advised not to drink alcohol while taking them, but that didn’t really bother me.

      Elocon Cream 0.1% also prescribed this I used at night before bed on the places where my pmle starts.

      I used a sunbed 2 weeks prior to my holiday 3-6mins 3x a week ( i know naughty but I don’t burn and only used it for 2 weeks)

      I brought Mexoryl- La Roche Posay and used for first 5 days of my holiday, I also used piz buin allergy.

      Aloe Vera Aftersun.

      Beta Carotene from Holland & Barrat once a day, 14days prior to my holiday & while on holiday.

      Also I did take the odd anti histamine, but I thought I didn’t need it and stopped taking it.

      And.. After all of that no PMLE.

      It was well worth it 🙂 an itch free holiday!

      But when I returned to the U.K a week later I went to the beach on a lovely sunny day and unfortunetly guess what returned? Hmm…. you guessed it, so something worked what I did on holiday.

      Hope this helps for everyone! xx

  30. Hello !!!

    I’m so glad I came across this!! I am set to go to Jamaica and I’m a bit nervous on going because I too suffer with PMLE. I’m not sure what to try first .. The eucerin or the shirudo lotion. My arms become unbearable but I’m determined to find something that works for me!! Thank you!! I will try and post again to see how it goes.

  31. I have been suffering with the symptoms of PMLE now for 20 years plus, and have always in the past just accepted that it was “prickly heat” and that it was something i would have to live with. I have avoided beach sunshine holidays as they are no pleasure once the rash arrives and the discomfort starts. Having just returned from the IOM, where for once the weather was glorious, sun shining bright, and a comfortable heat. Not a sunbathing holiday so dressed in shirts and jeans and very active everyday, walking and sight seeing, getting the rash on the only parts of flesh to be seen, ( lower arms, neck and chest ) i was distraught. I decided to find out what this could actually be, and have self diagnosed PMLE. I am now on a mission to find the best prevention and treatment. Your article has been the best information I have found to date and I will be trying your suggestions. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  32. I’m so glad I came upon your site – it is truly amazing and very encouraging. I’ve been suffering from what I am self-diagnosing as PMLE since countless doctors and dermatologists haven’t been able to figure it out. Telling me to stay out of the sun is just as ridiculous as telling me not to breathe. Who wants to go away to a tropical island and 1) stay out of the sun/sit in the shade 2) cover up and not get a nice tan and 3) watch everyone else just lay out in the sun and enjoy their vacation? Not me. First I thought I had contact dermatitis, then I thought it was an allergy to the sunscreen I was using…only to go away on my honeymoon very recently and still come back with a rash even after not using sunscreen. Needless to say, I had a bit of a breakdown while in St. Maarten because of the rash and spent one day indoors reading blogs and websites about PMLE. While it sucks that some of us have to deal with this condition, it really is reassuring to know that there are others out there who know what I’ve been dealing with. I can’t wait to order a bottle of Shirudo Antioxidant Body Lotion and see how it works for me. THANK YOU.

    1. Hi Preyah, thank you for your comment. I’m very glad this is helpful to others! I also did this “no sunscreen at all” test on a winter vacation to Dominica 15 years ago. I had horrible sunburns and I got a PMLE rash anyway on top. A painful memory! I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. But you are right photoallergic contact dermatitis is so similar to PMLE, I think it is very important to clear that out first. I might even write a special article only to talk about this.

      For the benefit of other readers, to make sure it is not photoallergic contact or contact dermatitis, the best is to consult a dermatologist or allergist who can quickly run a patch test (and/or photo patch test). Much less dangerous and painful than having a tropical vacation without protection! A lot of people have photoallergic contact dermatitis to oxybenzone. Make sure the sunscreen, but also soap, shampoo or other body lotion, are not containing any oxybenzone, or other chemical like butyl methoxy dibenzoylmethane and methoxycinnamate, is a simple way to identify the problem. If you are not sensible to any of those chemicals, you are not taking any special meds and you still got a sun rash on your first days of sun exposure, chances are it is PMLE.

  33. Just found your article after returning from another spring tropical vacation covered in my usual, itchy rash. This time I was extremely disheartened because I generously applied SPF 50 (I usually use 30), avoided laying out in the hot sun as much as I possibly could — this is tough when you’re on a tropical island! — and yet still, my arms and legs are covered in this horrible rash. I also added in Allegra which definitely helped my itching and possibly subdued the rash but not by much. I sit here at my computer searching for a solution other than “avoid the sun” which is unrealistic for most of us. I will try your suggestions and cross my fingers. Thank you so very much for your informative site. You are truly providing inspiration for your fellow PMLE sufferers. 🙂

    1. Thank you Lea! I hope there is in this list a solution just for you. And as mentioned by Preyah, you might also want to test for photoallergic contact dermatitis. Have a look at your sunscreen ingredient list for usual troublemakers: oxybenzone, butyl methoxy dibenzoylmethane and methoxycinnamate. Oxybenzone being the main responsible for almost 50% of sunscreen allergy, according to research conclusion.