Systemic lupus is an autoimmune disease that can strike any area of the body, but typically involves organs. The skin is the body’s largest organ and this is where many lupus patients experience problems related to the disease.
Here are a few of the most common lupus-related skin problems:
The hallmark of lupus is the butterfly rash, also known as a malar rash. This distinctive rash presents as a redness stretching across the nose and cheeks and resembles the shape of a butterfly.
Lesions can vary in shape and size and some may leave a scar once they have healed. For most lupus sufferers, the lesions are not painful but can be itchy.
Many lupus patients will find that they are unable to tolerate ultraviolet light, such as sun rays or indoor UV lighting. Exposure to UV lighting will cause skin irritation and leaves patients susceptible to sunburn.
Calcinosis is characterized by deposits of calcium on the skin, these will look like small white lumps.
Raynaud’s Phenomenon is a condition where the blood vessels in the hands and feet become narrowed. This means that cold temperatures can cause discoloration of the hands and painful tingling sensations.
Painful ulcers can appear in the mouth, nasal cavity and even the vagina. Lupus patients may also suffer from digital ulcers.
Vasculitis is characterized by inflamed blood vessels which bleed into the surrounding tissue. This manifests as small reddish-purple spots on the skin. If severe, they can lead to blood clots and skin ulcers.
Livedo reticualris is a skin condition associated with poor circulation and shows as netted purple mottling of the skin. (Source: Mayo Clinic)
This skin disorder affects the palms of the hands, particularly at the base of the thumb and little finger. The patient will experience a redness and heat coming from the palms.
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