When systemic lupus affects skin, it may cause a butterfly-shaped rash on the nose and cheeks, known as a malar rash, the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases states. The condition may make the skin sensitive to sunlight, so rashes often form on other exposed areas, such as the upper torso, arms, hands and ears. Discoid lupus causes thick, scaly rashes with a red, raised appearance. They commonly affect the face and scalp and may leave scars.
Lupus triggered by medication may cause short-term rashes that disappear when a patient stops using the substance, the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases explains. Subacute cutaneous lupus causes skin lesions triggered by photosensitivity, but the condition doesn’t cause scarring. In rare cases, infants are born with skin rashes caused by neonatal lupus.
As an autoimmune disease, lupus causes the immune system to produce antibodies that attack healthy tissue and cause inflammation throughout the body, according to Medical News Today. The most common form, systemic lupus, can target almost any part of the body, leading to wide-ranging symptoms such as hair loss, swollen glands, mouth ulcers and seizures. While doctors don’t know the exact cause of lupus, some people are genetically predisposed and may trigger the illness through environmental factors such as tanning from natural light or UV bulbs.