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Lupus Rash – Pictures, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Updated on February 6, 2014

Lupus, or systemic lupus erythematosus, or SLE is an inflammatory autoimmune disorder that is chronic in nature. It is caused due to the mistaken attack of the immune system on healthy tissues and organs of the body.

Lupus may result in inflammation of a number of different body systems including the joints, skin, blood cells, lungs, kidneys, brain, and the heart. It is quite difficult to arrive at a diagnosis of lupus as the condition tends to elicit signs and symptoms that are similar to those displayed by a variety of other ailments.

Lupus can be identified by the formation of two kinds of rashes, i.e. a distinctive butterfly rash on the face, and/or discoid rashes.

Symptoms of lupus rash

The symptoms of lupus spring up on the skin in the forms of flares. These signs are sporadic, last for a short time and then pale before coming back again. Here are the symptoms of lupus rash. :

1. Butterfly rash on face

  • It is a unique rash which occurs on the face and is spread across both the cheeks as well as the bridge of the nose. This type of characteristic lupus rash looks like the wings of a butterfly and hence the name.
  • The rash may be macular with clear borders.
  • It does not itch
  • It may be purplish or red in color and somewhat scaly
  • The rash may also migrate to other areas of the face

2. Discoid rash

  • The rashes have a distinctive circular appearance
  • It typically affects the scalp, face, and the neck.
  • Discoid lupus rashes are thick, reddened, scaly, and itchy, along with sharp borders.
  • It can also develop as lesions
  • There may be scarring of the affected skin upon healing

There are many other signs and symptoms that occur along with lupus rashes. Such symptoms point to the presence of anomalies in varied tissues and organs of the body. They are:

  • Elevated fatigue and weakness
  • Increased cases of fever
  • Joint pain, inflammation, and/or stiffness
  • Unintended loss or gain in weight
  • Formation of skin lesions which worsen after contact with the sun
  • Development of sores in and around the mouth
  • Chest pain
  • Hair loss
  • Ocular dryness
  • Exposure to cold temperatures or elevated stress can cause the toes and fingers to become whitish or bluish
  • Fragility of the skin leading to easy bruising
  • Excessive anxiety, depression, and other psychological disorders
  • Breathlessness or rapid breathing
  • Forgetfulness, loss of memory, confusion, and/or disorientation
  • Headaches

In the later stages, lupus rash may be accompanied by symptoms that indicate presence of abnormalities in specific organs. The signs include:

  • There may be serious kidney damage including kidney failure which can cause deaths. Kidney inflammation can cause leg swelling, generalized itchiness, chest pain, vomiting, and nausea.
  • Occurrence of blood vessels inflammation or vasculitis, as well as varied blood disorders like easy bleeding, anemia, and blood clotting problems.
  • Brain inflammation associated with lupus rash may cause hallucinations, headaches, cognitive impairment, dizziness, behavioral changes, loss of memory, and strokes or seizures.
  • Development of pleurisy or inflammation of the chest cavity wall. It can result in problematic and painful respiration
  • Lupus rashes may also be accompanied by inflammation of the heart membrane, its arteries, and muscles. This can pose an increasing threat to cardiac attacks and cardiovascular conditions.

Lupus-associated inflammation of different tissues and organs of the body can also result in a compromised immune system which can cause varied health complications such as increased risk to infections and cancers, miscarriages and other pregnancy problems, and bone tissue death.

Causes of lupus rash

There is no known cause of lupus rash. It is however believed that people with a genetic tendency to develop disorders of the immune system may experience lupus rash after exposure to the below listed triggers:

  • Some kinds of medicines. Lupus rash and its accompanying symptoms decrease and then stop after a patient ceases to take the drugs
  • Excessive sun exposure
  • Epstein-Barr virus infections, excess smoking, and contact with silica, mercury, or other such hazardous chemicals
  • Presence of varied skin diseases like acne, pellagra, rosacea, seborrheic dermatitis, erysipelas, Bloom Syndrome, and dermatomyositis

Women and people of Asian, African American, and Hispanicethnicity are at increased risk to developing lupus rash.

Treatment of lupus rash

Lupus rash and its accompanying symptoms are treated with varied medications, as listed below:

  • Fever, pain, and inflammation can be alleviated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Corticosteroids and antimalarial drugs may be prescribed for easing severe symptoms
  • Serious cases of lupus rash may be treated with immune suppressants
  • Organ-related damage is treated as per the underlying conditions and the severity of accompanying symptoms
  • One can avoid or limit exposure to the many triggers of lupus and thereby help reduce the flare-ups. A healthy diet and regular exercising also help.

Lupus Rash Pictures

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