Living with skin lupus

Living with skin lupus: symptoms, diagnosis, lifestyle changes

Skin lupus types and symptoms

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disorder, and quite possibly, one of the diseases that is hardest to diagnose. There are four types depending on where the disease manifests itself: internal organs, joints, skin etc. and it varies in severity of symptoms. We are going to discuss the form that attacks only the skin, called cutaneous lupus.

According to the lupus organization , Chronic cutaneous lupus (discoid lupus) manifests as disk-shaped, round lesions that usually appear on the scalp and face.  Discoid lupus lesions can be very photosensitive, and the lupus organization recommends preventive measures.

A second type is the subacute cutaneous lupus with lesions that appear as areas of red scaly skin with distinct edges or as red, ring-shaped lesions. The lesions occur most commonly on the sun-exposed areas of the arms, shoulders, neck and are also photosensitive.

Finally,  acute cutaneous lupus lesions occur when your systemic lupus is active. The most typical form of acute cutaneous lupus is a malar rash–flattened areas of red skin on the face that resemble a sunburn.

How do you get diagnosed with skin lupus

While getting the right diagnostic may take some time, a biopsy of the affected skin usually shows results. If you notice unusually burn like marks or extreme rashes on sun exposed areas of your face, neck and hands, go see a dermatologist right away.

Does your lifestyle change when living with skin lupus

Most of  the cutaneous lupus cases are either triggered or worsen by the UVA and UVB  of the Sun ( and of artificial light for that matter). The lupus organization recommends:

  • Avoid being out in the sunlight between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Use plenty of sunscreen when you are outdoors
  • Wear sun-protective clothing and broad-brimmed hats
  • Limit the amount of time spent under indoor fluorescent lights

For someone that really enjoys the outdoors, especially if active in recreational sports, it is quite difficult to avoid being outside for most of the day. It also affects how you vacation to tropical destinations for sure.

There are certainly ways to protect yourself while still enjoying the outdoors in the sun, as we like to say, worry free. Some of these we will explore further on our blog, but remember that some sunscreen is better than other, and a higher SPF doesn’t necessarily mean significantly more protection.