There are numerous skin diseases, and some of these are benign that they may be treated without professional supervision. But some skin diseases are so unusual or malignant that only a competent physician (as a dermatologist) is qualified to diagnose and treat them. One such skin disease is known as a milder form of lupus, called cutaneous lupus erythematosus.
People should not be misled by the use here of the comparative form of the word “mild” because, in reality, cutaneous lupus erythematosus is a serious skin disease; the person affected with this skin disease should be placed promptly under the care of a physician. The use of “milder” here is to emphasize that cutaneous lupus erythematosus (a nonsystemic form of lupus) is comparatively less severe than the disseminated or systemic variety of the disease, which affects not only the skin but also one or more of the body’s internal organs.
In general, lupus is an inflammatory disease of unknown cause, which has divergent effects in different individuals. A chronic, recurring skin disease, cutaneous lupus erythematosus (also called discoid lupus) is more common in women than in men, and most frequently occurs between ages 20 and 30. If it is any consolation, it is said that only a few of the cases of cutaneous lupus erythematosus develop into the systemic form of lupus.
The main symptom of cutaneous lupus erythematosus is a patchy skin rash. Specifically, the skin lesions are red, rounded (hence, the alternative name discoid lupus), slightly raised, scaly patches which appear typically in the figure of a butterfly that extends across the cheeks and over the bridge of the nose. The skin disease also often involves other areas of the face, as well as the scalp.
In some cases of this skin disease, the lesions may appear disseminated over the arms, trunk, and legs. The patient’s lips and mouth membranes may also be involved. The skin lesions tend to spread at their borders; they then heal at the center. Usually, conspicuous scars develop as a result of the healing. The skin involvement may later disappear, sometimes for good. More commonly, though, it occurs again.
This skin disease is typically aggravated by exposure to sunlight. The person affected with cutaneous lupus erythematosus should avoid fatigue and should have adequate rest. The physician may prescribe corticosteroid cream to apply to the affected skin areas. For certain cases of lupus, the physician may also prescribe chloroquine (example is the brand name Aralen Phosphate), a drug used to treat and prevent malaria.
1. Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus – http://www.wrongdiagnosis.com/medical/cutaneous_lupus_erythematosus.htm
2. “Current Treatment of Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus”, by Victoria Werth, MD, on Dermatology Online Journal (Volume 7, Number 1), Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania – http://dermatology.cdlib.org/DOJvol7num1/transactions/lupus/werth.html