Types of Lupus Skin Disease

Published on: July 25, 2015 (Last modified on: October 12, 2020)

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that has different forms and has a wide variety of symptoms. However, almost all types of lupus can result in skin disorders that can be embarrassing and cause scarring or hair loss in the individual with the disease. Although there are many different skins conditions linked to lupus, there are forms of lupus that specifically target the skin, a type of lupus called cutaneous lupus. It is estimated that about two-thirds of lupus suffers contract a form of cutaneous lupus and must receive treatment for the condition. There are three main forms of this skin disease:

Chronic Cutaneous (discoid) Lupus

Discoid lupus usually appears on the face or scalp as red, scaly round lesions. While not usually painful, these lesions can scar the skin or cause hair loss, and are susceptible to developing skin cancer if the lesions persist for long periods of time. Discoid lupus is photosensitive, so those with the disease need to avoid unprotected sun exposure.

Subacute Cutaneous Lupus

Appearing on body areas that are generally exposed to the sun, subacute cutaneous lesion are red and scaly, usually not painful or itchy. They can be ring-shaped or have distinct edges, found on the arms, legs, neck and shoulders. These lesions do not usually cause scarring but can cause skin discoloration.

Acute Cutaneous Lupus

The most common form of cutaneous lupus is acute lesions. This red rash usually occurs on the cheeks, often looking like a sunburn. In some cases, it can form on both cheeks and over the bridge of the nose, called a butterfly rash. There is usually no scarring from acute lesions, skin discoloration may occur.

For all forms of skin disease or disorders related to lupus, treatment by a qualified dermatologist is recommended to help control the symptoms and reduce the chance of long term skin damage.

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