Lupus generates a wide range of symptoms and people with the disease experience them at different intensities. Lupus involves abnormal activity of the immune system. The dysfunctional immune system produces antibodies that turn against healthy body cells and tissues (antinuclear antibodies). Some antibodies produced by the dysfunctional immune system can even alter the body’s genetic material (anti-DNA antibodies). The abnormal activity of the immune system can lead to the occurrence of various internal disorders (heart disease, pulmonary disease, kidney disease), disorders of the musculoskeletal system (arthritis, osteoporosis), disorders of the nervous system (brain disease) and skin diseases (lupus rash, erythematous lesions).
In spite of the fact that patients with the autoimmune disease generally have different symptoms, rash is a common sign of lupus. Lupus rash is characteristic to both systemic and discoid forms of the disease and it is usually the first symptom to appear. Lupus is a chronic disease and its generated symptoms reoccur on a regular time basis. Although other symptoms may come and go, lupus rash is very persistent and difficult to overcome.
Lupus rash commonly occurs on the body regions that are exposed to sunlight: scalp, face, neck and shoulders. However, the rash can also occur in other areas of the body (chest, back, palms and feet), in many cases accompanied by skin lesions. When it occurs on the face, lupus rash has a reddish, burn-like aspect. Sometimes the rash can even affect the moist tissues around the mouth and the nose. In the systemic form of the disease, lupus rash doesn’t generally involve skin scarring and it can ameliorate with medical treatment. Lupus rash tends to aggravate if the affected skin is exposed to the sun for long periods of time.
In the discoid form of lupus, the rash occurs in different regions of the body and it affects larger patches of skin. Discoid lupus rash involves hyperpigmentation of the skin, exfoliation and the formation of crust. The skin lesions characteristic to discoid lupus erythematosus can affect deeper layers of skin and they usually heal with scarring. When it occurs on the scalp, discoid lupus rash can involve temporary or permanent hair loss (alopecia). If the rash is accompanied by intense scaling, papules and crust, the skin may heal with pronounced scarring.
Subacute cutaneous lupus rash generally occurs in the body areas that are exposed to the sun. The rash increases in size and it forms circular, scaly patches. This type of lupus rash doesn’t involve scarring, but it usually heals with hypo-pigmentation of the skin. Subacute cutaneous lupus rash can occur in both systemic and discoid forms of the disease and it generally fades in the periods of remission. Although it can’t be completely overcome, this symptom can also be controlled through the means of medical treatments. When you have lupus rash, it is very important to avoid exposing the affected skin to sunlight. Also, you should avoid exposing the skin to irritants and chemicals, as they can seriously aggravate the rash.