Skin changes typically affect patients suffering from lupus, both cutaneous form of the disease and systemic lupus erythematosus. The condition is known to affect different organs and organ systems and requires special care and adequate treatment.
Skin Lupus Classification
Lupus affecting the skin can be classified into three major categories. The first one is discoid lupus, then we have sub-acute lupus and finally, there is rash occurring in individuals suffering from systemic lupus erythematosus.
It is estimated that discoid lupus affects the majority of patients. They are affected by well-defined and red scaly patches. These skin changes occur on the exposed parts of the body, predominantly the face, head and neck. The treatment may be quite successful. The only problems are remnant hypo or hyperpigmentation of the affected skin and formation of scars. Permanent hair loss is also a potential complication of the disease and it generally affects the scalp.
Unlike people suffering from discoid lupus which usually do not develop systemic form of the disease at some point, patients suffering from systemic lupus erythematosus frequently develop discoid lupus. In these patients there is characteristic rash affecting the nose and cheeks known as butterfly rash.
As far as subacute lupus is concerned, this condition develops due to exposure to sunlight. The rash is in a form of red and scaly rings that may be distributed throughout the body.
Treatment for Skin Lesions in Patients Suffering from Lupus
Depending on the type of the disease, as well the extent and severity of skin changes, patients with lupus may undergo different treatments.
Such patients must strict to basic measures, may be prescribed topical creams and ointments or they need to take medications orally.
One of the most important preventive measures is staying away from the sun. Since it is practically impossible not to expose the body to sunlight, one may prevent the skin by wearing long sleeved tops, long trousers and skirts and a broad-brimmed hat. Use of sunscreens is also important.
Topical creams and ointments contain corticosteroids, powerful anti-inflammatory agents, capable of reduction of even the most severe skin inflammation. Strong steroid creams and ointments must never be used on the face and in this case doctors opt for more suitable creams and ointments.
The most severe cases are treated with oral medications. For instance, discoid lupus may respond well to hydroxychloroquine, dapsone and thalidomide. Also, patients with systemic lupus are prescribed oral corticosteroids which control the systemic disease and additionally take care of skin lesions.
No matter what treatment is chosen, patients are regularly monitored and undergo treatment adjustments, if necessary.