Lupus skin lesions appear on parts of the body that are generally exposed to the sun, particularly the face, neck, ears, arms and legs. Between 40 and 70 percent of those who suffer from lupus experience a worsening of skin lesions in sunlight or artificial light.
Roughly two-thirds of those diagnosed with lupus develop a related skin disease that manifests in one of three forms: chronic cutaneous lupus, subacute cutaneous lupus or acute cutaneous lupus. The first of these is typically found on the face and scalp and takes the form of round, disc-shaped lesions that usually itch, especially when exposed to sunlight or indoor lighting.
Subacute cutaneous lesions appear either as red, circular lesions or patches of scaly, red skin with notable edges. These sores appear most often on the neck, shoulders and arms. They tend not to itch and sometimes become discolored over time.
When systemic lupus is active, acute cutaneous lesions often form. These look much like a rash or a sunburn. They appear on the arms, legs, body and face. When they form across the bridge of the nose onto both cheeks, they are referred to as a butterfly rash. While they rarely cause scarring, they sometimes permanently discolor the skin.