Why Does Lupus Create Lesions on the Skin?


Quick Answer

People with lupus may develop a skin disease known as cutaneous lupus erythematosus, which can cause rashes or lesions to form on the skin, according to the Lupus Foundation of America. These lesions are most likely to occur on parts of the skin that are exposed to the sun such as the ears, nose, neck, arms and legs. Even exposure to artificial light can cause lesions to form.

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The three types of cutaneous lupus are chronic cutaneous discoid lupus, subacute cutaneous lupus and acute cutaneous lupus, notes the Lupus Foundation of America. Chronic cutaneous discoid lupus forms round lesions that usually appear on the face and scalp, and 10 percent of people with this type of lupus later develop lupus in other organs. Subacute cutaneous lupus lesions presents as scaly, red, ring-shaped rashes with clear edges, and they usually form on the arms, neck, shoulders or body. These lesions are photosensitive, and they can become worse when exposed to sunlight or florescent lighting.

Acute cutaneous lesions occur when systemic lupus is active, and they appear as a rash on the face that looks like a sunburn, explains the Lupus Foundation of America. These lesions are also photosensitive and typically do not produce scarring.

Other skin conditions that can occur with lupus are calcinosis, cutaneous vasculitis lesions, Raynaud's phenomenon and petechiae, according to the Lupus Foundation of America.

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