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Subacute Cutaneous Lupus

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Updated June 11, 2014

People with lupus know the disease can affect various parts of their body, both inside and out, in a variety of ways. But one of the clearest signs that a person has developed the disease is the way it affects the skin (cutaneous disease).

There are, generally speaking, three types of lupus skin disease: chronic cutaneous (discoid lupus), subacute cutaneous, and acute cutaneous.

Some people with discoid lupus may never develop the systemic version of the disease (systemic lupus erythematosus). And those with subacute cutaneous lupus may develop arthritis, for example, while those with acute cutaneous lupus typically are people with active SLE.

Subacute cutaneous lesions are defined by their two clinical forms:

  • A psoriasis-like lesion with red scaly patches on the arms, shoulders, neck, and trunk and fewer patches on the face.
  • A red ring-shaped lesion with a slight scale on the edges.

Those with photosensitivity and lupus skin disease should avoid natural sunlight and tanning beds as this photosensitivity will exacerbate the disease.

As with discoid lupus, lesions can be treated with the application of corticosteroid creams, ointments, gels, tapes, and solutions. Individual lesions can be injected with a corticosteroid suspension. For persistent rash, anti-malarial drugs may be used.

Sources:Lupus and the Skin. American Academy of Dermatology. December 2006.
Symptoms The Lupus Foundation of America. June 2007.

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