What Does a Lupus Rash Look Like

What does a lupus rash look like? The symptoms of this disease can resemble scaly patches of skin or circular-shaped lesions affecting areas of the body. These areas are red in color and appear on parts of the body overly exposed to sunlight or fluorescent lighting. Areas affected include the arms, ears, legs, scalp, neck and shoulder area. The rash may also appear on the face covering the cheeks and bridge of the nose.

Lupus Skin Disease
There are three forms of lupus skin disease: chronic cutaneous lupus, subacute cutaneous and acute cutaneous. 

Chronic cutaneous lupus (discoid) lesions appear in the form of round red scaly patches mostly on the face and scalp but may appear on other parts of the body as well. Although discoid lesions do not itch, they can result in discoloration to the skin. Lesions to the scalp may result in hair loss; if scarring occurs, there can be permanent hair loss. Discoid lesions are very sensitive to light.

Subacute cutaneous lupus lesions appear as distinctive patches of red scaly skin or as circular-shaped lesions. This form of lesion is susceptible to the sun and parts of the body exposed to sunlight are affected. These lesions may cause the skin to become discolored but generally do not cause itching or scarring.

Acute cutaneous lupus results in the most typical form known as the malar rash. This red rash appears on the cheeks and across the nose resembling sunburned skin and shaped like a butterfly. The rash is sensitive to light and may cause discoloration to the skin.

Other Skin Problems
Cutaneous vasculitis lesions result from damaged blood vessels due to inflammation causing the formation of small bumps or spots on the legs. Sores or discoloration around fingernails or fingertips may occur.

Petechiae results in red spots on the skin due to a low platelet count. The spots generally appear on the lower portion of the legs.

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