Tag Archives: polymorphous light eruption


It’s hard to capture in pictures how gnarly my arms look right now, but here are a few shots at it:

It kinda looks like a bad sunburn in these pics, but it’s definitely not a sunburn. It’s just my body going “lol, ultraviolet light? I’ve never seen that before. Let’s have a bad immune reaction to it!”

Super coolio, body. Super coolio.


So remember last summer when I told you that I’d been diagnosed with polymorphous light eruption, but I was a bit skeptical of this because the eruptions stopped sometime mid-July and I didn’t think I actually had the condition?

Yeah, now I’m pretty sure I have the condition.

It’s finally, finally warm enough up here to walk without a coat on, so that’s what I’ve been doing for the past several days. This is the first time my arms have been uncovered and in the sunlight since…man, I don’t know, September?* Yesterday night I noticed a few bumps on my upper arms that very quickly started to itch once I poked and prodded them a bit.

And today, after walking another 15 miles in sunny weather, my arms were really looking roughed up. They were getting that same rash-like landscape of red bumps that I was getting last year when I started exposing them to the sun. And they itched like crazy. These were the symptoms that led to the diagnosis last year.

I’ll be curious to see if my skin “toughens up” to the UV rays like it did last year, which is apparently a thing that happens for a lot of people with this condition. It flares up when skin is first exposed to the stronger UV lights in the spring/summer, but starts to calm down once the skin gets acclimated to the light.

Who knows? All I know right now is ITCH and BURN and WHY DOES MY SKIN HAVE THE TEXTURE OF A BASKETBALL

*We actually just tied the record of the most consecutive days without reaching 68 degrees. We reached that temperature today; we hadn’t reached it since the end of September last year. What the hell, Calgary.



So I finally went to the doctor to see about the crazy arm rashes I’ve been getting, and it sounds like I have polymorphous light eruption.

It sounds super cool, but it basically means I’m allergic/sensitive to UV light. It’s a delayed reaction where you’re fine when you’re out in the sun but after the sun exposure occurs, then your immune system starts going “OH SHIT” and reacts to it, causing rough-looking rashes/blisters and lots and lots of itching.

Here’s more:

So, you know, no big deal.
I’m just out in the sun for four hours to get my 15-mile walk in every day.
N o  p r o b l e m .

And no, sunscreen doesn’t prevent it. I’ll either have to wear long sleeves or suffer the itch/redness. But for some people it seems to “flare” at the beginning of spring/summer when there’s more sun, but if they let it blister up and then heal, it “hardens” the skin against it until next spring/summer. We’ve been having a lot of cloudy/rainy days this week and my rash is almost gone, so maybe my arms will have healed enough by the time it gets super sunny again. WHO KNOWS, IT’S AN ADVENTURE.

Edit: well it’s mid-July now and the “eruptions” have definitely diminished a lot. So I either don’t have this at all and my arms were just being spazzes, or, like some people, I flared up at the first major spring exposures to sunlight and then “got used to it.” Odd news.