The lupus skin rash appears in the form of lesions on areas of the skin exposed to the sun, states the Lupus Foundation of America. However, the type of lesion that appears on the skin depends on the type of cutaneous lupus.
The three types of cutaneous lupus are chronic cutaneous lupus, subacute cutaneous lupus and acute cutaneous lupus, explains the Lupus Foundation of America. Discoid lupus causes lesions that are thick, scaly and red. Discoid lupus rashes often appear on the scalp or face. Subacute cutaneous lupus lesions are also red and scaly, but these lesions have marked edges, often in the form of a ring. Subacute cutaneous lesions often occur on the arms, shoulders, neck and body.
Acute cutaneous lupus lesions look like a sunburn, according to the Lupus Foundation of America. This flattened, red rash often appears on the face, but it can also appear on the arms, legs and body. Acute cutaneous lupus and subacute cutaneous lupus lesions do not cause scarring, although they may discolor the skin. However, discoid lupus lesions may leave scars and discolor the skin.
All types of cutaneous lupus lesions are photosensitive. This means that patients should take extra care when out in the sun. The Lupus Foundation of America recommends avoiding the sun from 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., using sunscreen and protective clothing, and avoiding indoor fluorescent lights.