Primarily affecting women of child-bearing age, lupus is a serious autoimmune disease. It is estimated that 1.5 million people in the US suffer from lupus. When the disease is most active it can affect the whole body, including the skin, joints, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and brain.
The aggressive form of the condition is known as systemic lupus erythematosus, or SLE (systemic means affecting the whole body). There is a sister condition known as “discoid lupus erythematosus” (DLE) which is more confined to the skin and is so-named because of the coin-shaped lesions that form. DLE skin lesions are not usually itchy or painful, but they are more pronounced and severe than the skin lesions seen in SLE and can cause scarring and lasting cosmetic damage.
The “butterfly rash” is characterized by a red flushing or mild rash across the face and gets its name from the shape it forms across the nose and cheeks. This is generally associated with SLE. Discoid lupus lesions are more pronounced and can also appear commonly on the upper back, neck, and hands. Facial DLE lesions will often involve the scalp and ears as well.
Raised areas may thicken and become scaly, leading to scarring. The rash is unpredictable. It can last for days or years and it may ease then reappear. Lesions and flare-ups can be aggravated by sunlight, with new rashes appearing on exposed skin.
Although there is no cure for lupus, symptoms can be brought under control with careful medication. Simple lifestyle changes can also help minimize flare-ups, such as getting plenty of sleep, exercising, reducing stress, and protecting the skin from ultraviolet rays.
Many treatment options are available to minimize the symptoms during flare-ups when your lupus is active. This may include medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antimalarials, corticosteroids, and immuno-suppressant drugs.
Your Trillium Creek Dermatology skin experts will tailor a lupus treatment to your specific needs.