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Symptoms and Treatment of Cutaneous Lupus

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disease. cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE) affects just skin, without other symptoms.

Cutaneous lupus erythematosus occurs when immune system attacks healthy skin. Skin disease can be an early warning sign of the systemic lupus.
CLE is far more frequent in men. There are 3 subtypes of cutaneous lupus acute, subacute and chronic. Some go away without a trace; others leave scars.

Acute cutaneous lupus

The most recognizable sign of this type is a painless malar (butterfly) rash that stretches across the nose and cheeks. 

Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus (SCLE). 

This can cause two kinds of lesions: red, ring-shaped sores that sometimes overlap such as interlocking circles, and a raised rash that resembles psoriasis. This form of cutaneous lupus erythematosus can occur anywhere on your body except your face and is often triggered by sun light. Certain prescription drugs can also cause this form of cutaneous lupus erythematosus, especially some heart medications, proton pump inhibitors, anti-fungal therapy, chemotherapy medications and TNF blockers. People with SCLE also develop SLE or other immunity disease.

Chronic Lupus

This form has different subtypes, the most common is discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE). It is called discoid because lesions are characterized and they are similar to coin-shaped sores (discoid) that mainly on the face, ears and scalp. These can cause permanent scarring, changes in pigmentation and hair loss.


the goal is to improve the way your skin looks, prevent scarring and help you feel better overall.

non-drug treatments

There are the first line of defense.These include:
Avoiding drugs that can trigger symptoms;
Not smoking;
Protecting yourself from the ultraviolet light (sunscreen and protective clothing).


type of drug depends on the kind of lupus you have and how severe it is.
Topical treatment
Steroid ointments
Corticosteroid is usually used with Moderate symptoms and small areas.
Topical calcineurin inhibitor like tacrolimus (Protopic, Prograf) or pimecrolimus (Elidel)
prescribed to avoid steroid side effects.

Oral treatment
This antimalarial is the preferred choice. it works for about 60% of people with cutaneous lupus, but may be less effective in those who have SLE.

Low-dose methotrexate or an anti-inflammatory drug such as dapsone can be tried if anti-malarials don’t work.


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