Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that can affect various parts of the body, especially the skin, joints, blood, and kidneys.
Approximately two-thirds of people with lupus will develop some type of skin disease. Skin disease in lupus can cause rashes or sores (lesions), most of which will appear on sun exposed areas, such as the face, ears, neck, arms, and legs. In addition, 40 to 70 percent of people with systemic lupus will find that their disease is made worse by exposure to ultraviolet rays from sunlight or artificial light. Lupus skin rashes and lesions are often treated by a dermatologist; a physician who specializes in skin conditions.
The Forms of Cutaneous Lupus
Lupus skin disease, called cutaneous lupus erythematosus can occur in one of three forms:
● Chronic cutaneous (discoid) lupus erythematosus
● Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus
● Acute cutaneous lupus erythematosus
Chronic Cutaneous Lupus (discoid lupus) appears as disk-shaped, round lesions. The sores usually appear on the scalp and face, but sometimes they will occur on other parts of the body as well. Approximately 10 percent of people with discoid lupus later develop systemic lupus. Discoid Lupus lesions are often red, scaly, and thick. Usually they do not hurt or itch. Over time these lesions can produce scarring and skin discoloration (darkly colored and/or lightly colored areas). Discoid lupus lesions tend be very photosensitive, so preventive measures are important.
Subacute Cutaneous lesions may appear as areas of red scaly skin with distinct edges, or as red, ring-shaped lesions. The lesions occur most commonly on the sun-exposed areas of the arms, shoulders, neck, and body. The lesions usually do not itch or scar, but they can become discolored. Subacute cutaneous lesions are also photosensitive so preventive measures should be taken when spending time outdoors or under fluorescent lights.
Acute Cutaneous Lupus lesions occur when systemic lupus is active. The most typical form of acute cutaneous lupus is a malar rash — flattened areas of red skin on the face that resemble a sunburn. When the rash appears on both cheeks and across the bridge of the nose in the shape of a butterfly, it is known as the “butterfly rash.” However, the rash can also appear on the arms, legs, and body. These lesions tend to be very photosensitive. They typically do not produce scarring, although changes in skin color may occur.
Sourced from: Lupus Foundation of America
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