Background Polymorphic light eruption (PLE) is a prevalent photosensitivity condition associated with psychological distress.
Objective To examine patients with PLE for evidence of anxiety and depression, the influence of demographic and clinical variables, and the coping strategies used.
Methods In a cross-sectional design, patients with PLE (n = 145) who had attended a hospital dermatology department completed validated questionnaires assessing anxiety, depression, social anxiety, and coping strategies. Clinical variables examined were: (i) number of months of the year affected by PLE; (ii) facial involvement; (iii) time taken for the rash to resolve; and (iv) whether the patient ever used steroids for their condition.
Results Participants ranged in age from 16–78 (mean 44 years, SD 11·9), 81% female, with a mean age at onset of PLE of 28 years. Evidence of high levels of anxiety and depression was found in PLE, with 22% and 8% of patients scoring as probable cases for anxiety and depression, respectively. Higher levels of anxiety were associated with younger age of onset of PLE (r = −0·25, P < 0·01) and facial involvement (t = 2·84, P < 0·01), and depression was also associated with facial involvement (t = 3·60, P < 0·01). Furthermore, higher levels of depression and anxiety were associated with the use of maladaptive coping strategies, and depression was found to be the principal predictor of quality of life.
Conclusions High levels of anxiety and depression occur in PLE. Clinicians should be alert to the potential need for psychological management, particularly in patients with facial involvement and a younger age of onset of PLE.