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Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or Lupus is an autoimmune disease that is inflammatory and chronic in nature. Lupus causes the immune system of the body to attack one’s own organs and tissues.

Lupus may cause inflammation of various body systems such as the skin, joints, lungs, blood cells, brain, kidneys and heart. The diagnosis of lupus is difficult and problematic as its signs and symptoms are similar to those of other diseases and ailments.

Lupus may cause two types of rashes; the buttery rash on the face and the discoid rash.

Symptoms of lupus rash

The signs and symptoms of lupus appear in periods or episodes which are called flares. The symptoms may appear and get worse over a short period of time and go into remission or disappear for some time, before flaring up again.

Some of the signs and symptoms of lupus rash are listed below:

  • There is characteristic rash that appears on the face and is spread across the cheeks and the nasal bridge. This type of lupus rash is called as the butterfly rash and has the appearance of the wings of a butterfly. The rash is slightly scaly and reddish or purplish in color. The rash is non itchy and macular along with sharp borders. The rash may spread to other parts of the face.
  • Discoid rash appears on the skin and is characterized by the appearance of circular rashes on the face, scalp and the neck. The rashes are reddish, thick, itchy, scaly and well defined and may leave pigmented scars on healing. The rashes may also occur as lesions.The lupus rashes may be accompanied by various other symptoms that affect the different body organs and tissues. They are as follows:
  • Increased instances of fever
  • Excessive weakness, tiredness or fatigue
  • Inflammation or swelling of the joints, stiffness or pain
  • Weight abnormalities such as loss or gain in weight that is unintended
  • Sores in the mouth area or the oral cavity
  • Lesions form on the skin or worsen after exposure to sun
  • Loss of hair
  • Pain in the chest
  • Stressful episodes or cold atmosphere may cause the fingers and toes to turn increasingly white or blue
  • A dryness of the eyes
  • Rapid breathing or shortness of breath
  • Fragile skin that bruises easily
  • Headaches, disorientation, confusion and loss of memory or forgetfulness
  • Psychological disorders like depression or increased anxiety
  • Lupus rash may lead to organ-specific signs and symptoms during the later stages as mentioned below:

  • Kidneys: Lupus causes severe damage to the kidneys including fatalities due to kidney failure. Lupus induced kidney inflammation can lead to swelling of the legs, global itching, nausea, chest pain and vomiting.
  • Brain: Lupus induced brain inflammation may lead to increased instances of headaches, hallucinations, dizziness, cognitive deficits, memory loss, behavioral changes as well as seizures or strokes.
  • Blood and blood vessels: Lupus induced inflammation of the blood vessels may cause various blood problems such as anemia, easy bleeding or problematic blood clotting and vasculitis.
  • Lungs: Lupus may lead to inflammation of the linings in the chest cavity or pleurisy that causes painful and problematic breathing
  • Heart: Lupus induced inflammation of the cardiac muscles and membrane and arteries and can increase the risk of cardiac arrests as well as cardiovascular diseases.
  • Complications due to lupus inflammations of other body parts lead to weakening of the immune system that results in increased vulnerability to infections, increased cancer risk, death of the bone tissues and problematic pregnancy that can result in miscarriages

Causes of lupus rash

Lupus rash has no known causative factors. However, a genetic predisposition to immune disorders can eventually cause lupus due to the following environmental triggers:

• Increased exposure to sunlight

• Certain types of medications. Lupus symptoms diminish and then cease as the medication is stopped.

• Excessive smoking, infection with Epstein-Barr virus and exposure to chemicals such as mercury and silica increases the risk to develop lupus rash

• Other skin conditions or disorders such as acne rosacea, pellagra, seborrheic dermatitis, Bloom Syndrome, erysipelas, and dermatomyositis may also cause lupus rash

It has also been found that women, Asians, African Americans and Hispanics are at increased vulnerability to develop lupus rash

Treatment of lupus rash

Lupus rash or SLE can be treated by the intake of medications that are used to alleviate the signs and symptoms. The medications include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs that are used to treat pain, fever and swelling associated with lupus rash
  • Antimalarial drugs or corticosteroids to counter the inflammation in the advanced stages of lupus rash
  • Immune suppressants such as leflunomide, cyclophosphamide, mycophenolate, azathioprine and methotrexate
  • Avoiding exposure to sun and use of sun-block creams may help in the prevention of skin rash triggers thereby causing decreased instances of lupus rash

Lupus Rash Photos

Here are lupus rash pictures, ‘the butterfly rash’ on face is so evident

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