A lupus rash is categorized by several different skin disorders. We'll cover each of these skin disorders in depth, discuss what a lupus rash is and how it affects the body, and explore treatment approaches to lupus rashes. Lupus rashes and other lupus symptoms are triggered by UV light exposure, so sun protection and UV avoidance are important if you have lupus.

What are Lupus Rashes?

Lupus is an autoimmune illness that frequently manifests itself with skin rashes. In the thirteenth century, Dr. Rogerius Frugardi believed the lupus facial rash resembled the patterns on a wolf's face or a wolf bite. He gave the illness the Latin term “lupus” which means wolf.  

One of the characteristic rashes associated with lupus is the"malar rash" that looks like a butterfly extending over the bridge of your nose and your cheeks.In addition to the malar rash, lupus skin rashes can arise anywhere on your body.

What is Subacute Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus?

Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus (SCLE) rashes commonly appear on your arms, shoulders, chest, and neck, as well as other areas of your body exposed to the sun. The term "subacute" alludes to the fact that the rash appears episodically and can progress very swiftly.

The round, red lupus rash:

  • Connects to form interlocking circles. Is often neither painful nor irritating.
  • Won't typically leave scars but could make your skin lighter or darker.

Acute Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus (ACLE)

The malar rash is caused by ACLE. Additionally, you can experience rashes on your arms, legs, forehead, or other areas of your body.

People could mistake a butterfly rash for flushing, blushing, or a severe sunburn. Raised, thick, or scaly rashes are all possible manifestations of this rash. Although occasionally itchy, it's usually not painful.

ACLE can also result in the following issues:

  • Painful sores in your mouth
  • Hives (raised, painful bumps)
  • Hair loss

Is Cutaneous Lupus an Autoimmune Disease?

The immune system of the body attacks healthy tissue in an autoimmune illness. All  lupus patients need to be checked regularly for diseases which can affect the joints, kidneys, lungs, and other organs. In contrast to subacute cutaneous lupus and discoid lupus, which frequently affects only the skin, acute systemic  lupus erythematosus almost usually affects more than just the skin. This is crucial because unlike individuals with acute systemic lupus erythematosus, who all require monitoring, many people with subacute cutaneous lupus or discoid lupus live normal lives with little to no internal disease.

People with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are also susceptible to developing cutaneous lupus erythematosus. Approximately two-thirds of people with lupus will develop cutaneous lupus erythematosus. About 20% of people who have cutaneous lupus develop SLE.

Acute cutaneous lupus erythematosus, subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus, and chronic cutaneous lupus erythematosus are the three main subtypes of cutaneous lupus erythematosus. Acute cutaneous lupus erythematosus is characterized by a sun-induced, butterfly-shaped (malar) rash over the cheeks and nose. The hallmarks of subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus are either ring-shaped red patches with scaly edges and paler interiors or scaly red bumps in sun-exposed areas. Discoid lupus lesions consist of circular patches of thick, inflamed skin.

What is Discoid Lupus?

Discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE) is the most common type of lupus to affect your skin. Another name for it is chronic cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CCLE).

Although it can affect any part of your body, a discoid lupus rash generally occurs on the face and scalp. Hair loss could be temporary or permanent if you have discoid lesions on your scalp.

Typically, a discoid lupus rash:

  • Possesses thick, scaly, round, coin- or disk-shaped red spots.
  • Neither itch nor hurts
  • May leave scars or discolored skin (lighter or darker).

You may be at risk for skin cancer if you have persistent discoid lupus blisters or rashes. Discoid sores on your lips or inside your mouth may become squamous cell carcinoma, a kind of skin cancer.

Rarely chilblain lupus erythematosus will also appear as a complication of a discoid lupus . Patches of painful, red or purplish sores are present with this illness which develops or worsens after exposure to cold weather.

What Causes Lupus Rashes?

A lupus rash may develop after exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun or artificial light sources. Rashes occur when immune cells in your skin react to UV light sources, releasing chemicals that irritate and swell your skin. Your skin is photosensitive if you experience this type of reaction. For as many as 7 out of 10 lupus sufferers, exposure to UV light causes or aggravates skin issues.

How to Treat Lupus Rash

Before getting into treatment and prevention approaches to Lupus Rash, please note the information and other content provided in this blog, website or in any linked materials are not intended and should not be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory effects. Additionally, numerous studies have discovered that they lessen lupus symptoms. Oily fish (like salmon and sardines), flaxseeds, or a daily omega-3 supplement are all good ways to enhance your omega-3 consumption.

Some plants also help ease lupus symptoms. For people suffering from arthritic symptoms in particular, anti-inflammatory herbs like ginger and turmeric may be beneficial.

Corticosteroids, anti-inflammatory medications frequently prescribed for lupus treatment, may cause bone thinning and raise your risk of osteoporosis over the long term. While using corticosteroids, ask your doctor about daily calcium and vitamin D supplements to maintain strong bones.

You can manage the stress of having lupus by using mind-body strategies like guided imagery and hypnosis. Make sure to get enough sleep and frequently exercise to help reduce stress even more. Find out from a healthcare professional how much and what exercise is best for you.

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a steroid hormone necessary for creating testosterone and estrogen, may improve lupus patients' quality of life, according to research.While DHEA has the potential as an adjunctive therapy for lupus, unsupervised DHEA supplementation may increase your risk of heart disease and certain cancers. It is crucial to utilize DHEA under your doctor's supervision.

How to Prevent Lupus Rashes

Immunosuppressants and other lupus therapies can control the condition and reduce the likelihood of lupus rash development. Additionally, you can shield yourself against light exposure by doing the following:

  • Even when indoors, use a daily broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30. Use sunscreen again after two hours.
  • Stay indoors between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun's rays are most intense.
  • When outdoors, put on a broad-brimmed hat , tightly woven clothing, long sleeves, and a pair of sunglasses (all ideally with UV protection.)
  • Avoid tanning beds.
  • Use low-wattage light bulbs at home, and request that your company install them at the office.
  • Install UV-blocking window coverings at home and the office.
  • Put UV-blocking window films on the windows of your car. (Remember to abide by local and state laws.)
  • Do not place your workspace near windows.

This summer, you should be aware of other warm-weather triggers in addition to sunshine, as it can help you avoid severe lupus rashes and other symptoms.

Many patients may experience symptom flare-ups due to extreme heat and humidity which could include severe fatigue, worsening joint pain, weakness, and trouble thinking. Stay in an air-conditioned or adequately cool area to prevent flare-ups caused by the heat.

It's crucial to continue taking any prescription medications as prescribed throughout the summer because lupus treatments can potentially make your skin cells more photosensitive than they would ordinarily be.

Furthermore, there has never been a better moment for smokers to stop smoking because smoking can decrease the efficacy of lupus treatments, leaving your skin more vulnerable to flare-ups and rashes.

Key Takeaways About Autoimmune Disease

Talk with your healthcare provider to determine the best treatment plan for you regarding lupus rashes. Many patients seek holistic or therapeutic options for the treatment of lupus rashes. Try to increase healthy lifestyle habits and minimize stressors including environmental triggers that could flare your lupus symptoms. Your healthcare provider will know the right direction to take you in and work with you to establish an effective strategy to avoid flare ups.