What is a butterfly rash?

A butterfly rash is a reddish rash on the face that spreads over the bridge of the nose and across the cheeks, making the shape of a butterfly. A butterfly rash, also called a malar rash or flush, is most commonly associated with systemic lupus erythematosus, or lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease. About 50% of people with lupus have a butterfly rash (Source: PubMed Health).

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can have a serious and widespread effect on the body, including the skin, joints, muscles, and other organs. Butterfly rash and other symptoms of lupus are the result of tissue inflammation throughout various parts of the body. The appearance and severity of the butterfly rash varies between individuals and with the type of lupus. The butterfly rash can be light pink to dark red in color and tends to get darker in the sun.

The butterfly rash and other lupus symptoms generally occur as periodic attacks. These flare-ups of symptoms are followed by periods of time in which symptoms improve.

A facial rash, redness or flushing in a similar or vague butterfly-like shape across the cheeks can also be a symptom of other diseases, disorders or conditions. These include rosacea, windburn, scarlet fever, dermatomyositis, and pellagra.

In some cases, lupus can progress further and result in serious and even fatal complications, such as heart disease, infections, and kidney failure. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you have symptoms of complications of lupus, such as severe trouble breathing, sudden swelling of the legs, severely decreased or no urine output, chest pain, or a change in alertness or consciousness.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with a butterfly rash?

A butterfly rash and other symptoms of lupus are the result of tissue inflammation throughout various parts of the body. The type and severity of symptoms vary between individuals and with the type of lupus. Lupus symptoms generally occur as periodic attacks, or flare-ups, followed by periods of time in which symptoms improve.

At the onset of the disease, the butterfly rash and ot... Read more about butterfly rashsymptoms

CAUSES

What causes a butterfly rash?

A butterfly rash is most often associated with systemic lupus erythematosus, or lupus. Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can have a serious and widespread effect on the body, including the skin, joints, muscles, and other organs.

In some cases, a red facial rash with a butterfly-like shape can appear on the face, but it is related to other causes besides lupus. The rash s... Read more about butterfly rashcauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 23, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Allergies and the Immune System