Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: Facial Rash
Most individuals who have Lupus will typically present with mild symptoms. The disease won’t usually progress continuously but instead the individual will experience flares. These may also be referred to as flare ups of signs and symptoms. During flares or flare up of symptoms, the patient may experience a general worsening of the symptoms associated with Lupus but these will then improve and completely disappear given time.
Lupus may affect different organ systems. The signs and symptoms that an individual experiences usually depends on which organ system is affected. Some of the most common signs and symptoms that are associated with Lupus include general fatigue or malaise. The person may feel and appear weak. The individual will have some form of chest pain and won’t be able to tolerate long periods of physical activities. The individual will also experience shortness of breath during bouts of the illness.
The limbs and the joints of the individual will also be affected. Lupus will affect the small joints first. The signs and symptoms would even probably mimic rheumatoid arthritis in most cases. These will also usually be associated with some joint pain leading to or caused by stiffness and swelling.
The skin is also a target for Lupus. Individuals who experience Lupus will have skin that’s sensitive to the sun. There will usually be some reddening on areas that are sun exposed. These lesions also worsen with added sun exposure. The skin rash that individuals experience is referred collectively as the Lupus Rash. This would probably include the butterfly shaped redness/rash on the face that is characteristic of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. This characteristic facial rash will involve the bridge of the nose and the cheeks.
Those who have Lupus will also demonstrate Raynaud’s Phenomenon. This is the change in color of the extremities (fingers and/or toes). The fingers and/or the toes will become white or blue when they are exposed to cold. This would also be triggered when the individual experiences extreme stress.
Other organs or systems that are affected include the eyes. The eyes may become dry and irritated. They may even become itchy or bloodshot due to the dryness.
The person may also experience headaches and confusion. There have also been reported cases wherein the individual has some form of memory loss.
Skin Involvement in Lupus
The first overt signs of Lupus will probably include the Lupus rash that’s seen on the skin. This may not all look alike for each case. This rash may manifest itself in a lot of different forms. Some of the most common characteristics among these skin manifestations is that exposure to ultra-violet light triggers the rash. This means that individuals with lupus shouldn’t be exposed to the sun for long periods at a time. These could even lead to some ulcers in the mouth or nose.
Another way that the skin rash manifests itself in lupus is with the butterfly rash. This means that there is redness on the face which involves the bridge of the nose and the cheeks. This rash could be flat or raised. This could be bright red, dark or merely pinkish.
Another rash that is typical of Lupus cases is the discoid rash. The discoid rash is referred to as such because of its characteristic circular or oval appearance. This type of rash is usually seen on areas that are constantly exposed to the sun. These lesions will usually be red and raised. They will then also tend to become dry and scaly. They are painless and they do not typically itch. These types of rashes will usually leave behind a scar when they heal.
Yet another type of skin involvement in Lupus is the subacute cutaneous lesions. These skin lesions are characteristically red. Like the discoid lesions they are also circular in their shape. They will also become worse when they’re exposed to sunlight or ultraviolet light. These lesions don’t usually leave behind scars. They also tend to appear on large parts of the body. The symptoms that are associated with this type of rash include general muscle pain and joint pain. The individual will tend to have fever and general weakness and discomfort.
Kidney problems and nervous system related complications are typically rare.
The diagnosis of cutaneous lupus is a little tricky since the rash of individual cases will differ widely with each other. The only real way of getting a sure diagnosis is with a skin biopsy.
Those who suspect themselves of having cutaneous lupus may visit their dermatologists to get an accurate diagnosis. The dermatologist may then perform the biopsy and if need be prescribe topical corticosteroids. These corticosteroids will usually be in cream or gel form that would be applied locally to the rashes. If for any reason the rash won’t heal after a regimen of topical corticosteroids, the doctor will then administer corticosteroids directly in the lesion via injections. If the distribution of rashes or lesions covers a large part of the body, the doctor may prescribe oral corticosteroids.
Because the skins of individuals who have Lupus are particularly sensitive, they will be advised to wear Sunscreen. They would wear sunscreen whether they are inside or outside their homes. This is a great way of preventing the lesions that would come about from prolonged sun exposure.
Skin or Cutaneous Lupus is differentiated from Systemic Lupus in that in Cutaneous Lupus only the skin is affected. The problem with this classification is that it doesn’t take into account the fact that systemic lupus also has cutaneous manifestations and that cutaneous lupus may in fact only be the initial stages of Systemic Lupus. Whatever the real classification or the cause, treating Lupus related rashes is still top priority in the quest to improve the quality of life of these patients.