Lupus Awareness Month

May is Lupus awareness month, and it’s a great time to draw attention to some of the physical impacts and how they can affect the skin. Lupus is not contagious but autoimmune disorders can run in families, and some environmental triggers can make it develop in people. 

What is Lupus?

Lupus is an autoimmune disease affecting many parts of the body and causes inflammation. The body’s immune system is confused and starts to think healthy tissue is a virus and attacks it. It is more common in women and can be hard to diagnose as the symptoms resemble other conditions.

  Four different types of lupus:

Systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE -the most common form of lupus

Cutaneous lupus mainly affects the skin

Drug-induced lupus is from taking certain prescription medicines 

Neonatal lupus is when infants have lupus from the mother having lupus.

Lupus Symptoms

Lupus symptoms vary; some people experience joint pain, fatigue, and a butterfly-shaped rash on the face. Sometimes, the rash that develops in the skin can be itchy or painful. Lupus can also affect your nails, and you can develop sores inside your mouth. If lupus affects your skin, tell your dermatologist, who can treat your skin symptoms until they heal. 

How lupus affects the skin?

Skin symptoms can vary from person to person, but within cutaneous lupus, there are three different types:

Chronic cutaneous lupus causes round patches on the face and scalp. 

Subacute cutaneous lupus can cause a red scaly type rash that happens after time in the sunlight and on areas exposed to the sun. 

Acute cutaneous lupus creates a rash that develops as a butterfly shape on the face and nose. This rash can look like a sunburn and can also develop on other parts of the body. 

When lupus affects the skin, some common triggers are: 

cigarette smoking

certain medication



How can you protect your skin from the sun?

Many people with lupus are sun sensitive, and protecting your skin from the sun can help to alleviate some symptoms that are skin related. 

If you know you will be out for an extended period, there are options to protect your skin:

-Wear a higher level of SPF protection that blocks UVA and UVB rays. 

-Apply sunscreen at least thirty minutes before going out into the sun. 

-Wear hats and clothing that is lightweight and breathable but with long 

sleeves and pants. 

-Find a shaded area outside when spending time outdoors. 

Something to consider is:

-The skin can also be affected by indoor fluorescent lighting.

Having a plan in place to protect your skin can help to prevent flares from occurring and lessen the progression of the disease. 

There is a whole community of support for people with lupus, and you can connect on social media through Facebook or local groups. 

Here is a link to a website that has more information

It’s essential to have a skincare regimen in place to help reduce inflammation and manage your skin symptoms while addressing your other skin concerns. 

Have questions? I’m here to help! 


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