Some diseases like chicken pox, measles etc. have definitive symptoms that make it easy to diagnose. However, others like lupus affect each person in a different way making them complex diseases that may take longer to diagnose. Lupus attacks the immune system and causes the antibodies that would normally fight infection to react against the body’s own cells and tissues. There are two main forms of lupus; systemic lupus that affects any part of the body and cutaneous lupus that affects the skin. These can occur simultaneously or on their own.
Some of the rashes that can be caused by cutaneous lupus are:
- Malar rash or butterfly rash: This affects the face and appears as a butterfly shaped rash over the nose and cheeks. It is triggered by the sun’s uv rays and can appear as a faint blush or a severe, scaly rash.
- Discoid lupus: Lupus can also cause small. Coin shaped sores or rashes. These are reddish and scaly in appearance and usually affect parts of the body exposed to sunlight and uv radiation. If left untreated, these sores can worsen with time. Though they do not cause pain or itchiness, they can result in scarring. In cases where these sores develop on the scalp, they can cause permanent bald patches.
- Subacute cutaneous lesions: These can be described as small, red sores that are shaped like coins. These can be found on the arms, shoulders, neck and chest in patches that resemble psoriasis. These lesions are also triggered by uv exposure. Though they do not cause scarring, these lesions can lighten or darken skin.
- Mucous membrane lesions: Sores in the mouth or nose that have been triggered by lupus are known as mucous membrane lesions.
- Baldness: Lupus can make the hair follicles near the scalp fragile and brittle. This can destroy the hair follicles and lead to hair fall. In some cases, hair may grow back while in others it could result in permanent baldness.
- Cutaneous vasculitis lesions: These refer to purplish spots or lines on the calves and feet. This is caused by the inflammation of skin tissues and can cause severe damage and gangrene.
- Raynaud's phenomenon: When exposed to cold, the skin on your fingers and toes may also change colour to red, white or blue due to lupus. This is triggered by the tightening of blood vessels and may be accompanied by a tingling sensation or numbness. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a dermatologist.