What is Lupus Erythematosus?
Lupus erythematosus, the most common form of lupus, is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks its own tissues, resulting in inflammation and tissue damage of the affected organs. It can affect the skin, joints, brain, kidneys, and blood vessels. Skin disease can present as acute, subacute, and chronic types. While the cause of lupus is unknown, it is thought to be linked to environmental, hormonal, and genetic factors.
Signs and symptoms of lupus erythematosus may include:
- Acute skin rashes (called “butterfly” rashes that are seen on the cheeks and bridge of the nose)
- Chronic skin lesions (red, scaly patches or darker/lighter scarring plaques in sun-exposed areas)
- Hair loss (alopecia)
- Pain or swelling of the joints
- Sun sensitivity
- Oral ulcers
- And more
Lupus erythematosus can affect individuals of all ages, including children. However, women between the ages of 15-44 are at a greater risk. African-American patients are affected much more often than Caucasian patients. Men and women with an immediate family member with this condition have a slightly higher risk of developing it. The disease tends to be more active during the first few years after being diagnosed, and in people under the age of 40.
Who is a Good Candidate for Lupus Erythematosus Treatment?
Individuals who have been diagnosed with lupus erythematosus or have the above symptoms should see a dermatologist for treatment. The presentation of cutaneous lupus erythematosus may range from mild to very severe. A consultation is the first step toward diagnosis and treatment. Contact our office today to get started!
What to Expect During Lupus Erythematosus Treatment?
In order to be diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus, a patient typically will have 4 out of the 11 common signs of the disease. Most lupus patients will test positive for antinuclear antibody (ANA); however, this test alone does not determine if you have lupus. Your dermatologist will complete an exam and may have you undergo different medical tests in order to properly diagnose you.
While there is no current cure for cutaneous lupus erythematosus, there are treatment options to control symptoms. These include:
- Strict photoprotection: We suggest a higher number SPF (60+) sunscreens, photoprotective clothing, and UV window tinting for vehicles and home windows
- Corticosteroids: Low doses of prednisone can help with skin and arthritis symptoms. Intralesional corticosteroids and potent topical steroids are provided to improve the cutaneous disease
- Hydroxychloroquine: This medication, originally used to treat malaria, can also help with lupus and arthritis symptoms
- Methotrexate: This is an immunosuppressive drug that weakens the immune system to treat symptoms
- Thalidomide/lenalidomide: These medications can be used in a recalcitrant cutaneous disease that has not responded to standard therapy.
- Belimumab: This biologic medication suppresses the immune system to treat lupus.
Following Lupus Erythematosus Treatment
HMGS Dermatology often collaborates with rheumatologists to ensure comprehensive therapy for their lupus patients.
After regular lupus erythematosus treatment, patients should notice an improvement in their overall signs and symptoms. It is important to follow your dermatologist’s specific recommendations when it comes to how to properly receive treatment and any post-treatment tips. Some treatments may require you to be closely monitored by your doctor. Do not hesitate to reach out to our office regarding any treatment questions.
Schedule a Consultation
If you are interested in learning more about lupus erythematosus treatment options, contact HMGS Dermatology today! Our team will help you schedule your consultation appointment with one of our skilled practitioners.
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