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Semin Dermatol. 1990 Mar;9(1):32-8.

The acute idiopathic photodermatoses.

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Institute of Dermatology, St Thomas' Hospital, London, England.


The acute idiopathic photodermatoses are more common in females and comprise polymorphic light eruption, actinic prurigo, hydroa vacciniforme, and solar urticaria. Polymorphic light eruption occurs considerably more frequently than the others and while precise pathogenic mechanisms are still unclear, increasing evidence suggests an immunological basis for this condition. Although clinically distinct, actinic prurigo may be a variant of polymorphic light eruption, whereas solar urticaria and possibly hydroa vacciniforme are distinct entities, the former representing a type I hypersensitivity response. Polymorphic light eruption is characterized by a recurrent cutaneous reaction to ultraviolet (UV) exposure occurring after a delay of several hours that consists of pruritic erythematous papules, vesicles, or plaques on usually only some exposed sites and resolves without scarring over about a week. Actinic prurigo is differentiated from polymorphic light eruption by childhood onset and more persistent and excoriated lesions present both on sun-exposed and, to a lesser extent, non-exposed sites. Hydroa vacciniform is a rare disorder that also begins in childhood, and is characterized by recurrent crops of vesicles on sun-exposed skin and subsequent vacciniforme scarring. Solar urticaria is an uncommon condition that usually begins in the third or fourth decade and is differentiated from the other acute idiopathic photodermatoses by rapid onset of urticarial lesions within minutes of UV exposure and resolution within 1 to 2 hours.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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