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Skin Care and Diseases

Summer Skin Question

06/30/2011

Question:

Hello, experts!

In the summer months (and occasionally in winter, but less so) I get small, white bumps on the backs of my arms. My sister seems to have the same thing.

What is this and what can I do about it?

Thanks!

Answer:

Most likely, this is the common condition known as "sun poisoning" or more technically, polymorphous light eruption. This is a benign condition with no long term consequences. Sometimes more aggressive application of sunscreens help. If the rash/bumps become bothersome, over the counter anti-itch medications or 1% hydrocortisone may be used. The key is to make sure that it is not secondary to another disease or some medication you may be taking that could cause a sun-induced reaction on the skin. If there are other symptoms, or if there is any concern that this is more than the common "sun poisoning", a visit to the dermatologist is warranted.

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Response by:

Elma D Baron, MD Elma D Baron, MD
Associate Professor of Dermatology
Director, Skin Study Center
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University