What is discoid lupus erythematosus?

Discoid lupus erythematosus is an autoimmune disorder affecting the skin. The disorder causes a skin rash or lesions that usually appear on the nose and cheeks. Loss of hair and changes in skin pigment also occur with this disorder.

Discoid lupus erythematosus is more common in women than men and appears to have a familial linkage. Approximately 10% of people who have discoid lupus erythematosus will acquire systemic lupus erythematosus, a condition that affects multiple regions of the body (Source: LUPUS).

The cause of discoid lupus erythematosus is not known. However, it is believed to be an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system abnormally targets the skin, resulting in inflammation and rash. Risk factors for developing a discoid lupus erythematosus outbreak include exposure to sunlight and cigarette smoke.

The symptoms of discoid lupus erythematosus may be constant or sporadic. Not everyone who has discoid lupus erythematosus will have the same type of rash or rashes in the same locations. The word “discoid” refers to the disk shape of the lesions that make up the skin rash. The rash may be red, scaly and raised and usually does not itch. It may develop in areas that get sun exposure, such as the scalp and neck. It is also possible to develop rashes in the vagina or mouth. Discoid lupus erythematosus may also affect the hair, causing it to lose its color. Treatment for discoid lupus erythematosus includes corticosteroids to reduce the inflammation caused by the immune response.

Discoid lupus erythematosus may be a sign of systemic lupus erythematosus and can be linked to serious and possible life-threatening symptoms. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms, such as chest pain, sweating and severe difficulty breathing, rapid heart rate (tachycardia), or inability to urinate.

Seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for discoid lupus erythematosus but mild symptoms recur or are persistent.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of discoid lupus erythematosus?

Discoid lupus erythematosus causes inflammation and skin rashes. The symptoms can very in intensity among individuals and may occur daily or only occasionally. However, at any time, symptoms may become severe.... Read more about discoid lupus erythematosussymptoms

CAUSES

What causes discoid lupus erythematosus?

The cause of discoid lupus erythematosus is not known. However, it is believed to be an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system abnormally targets the skin, causing inflammation and rash.... Read more about discoid lupus erythematosuscauses

TREATMENTS

How is discoid lupus erythematosus treated?

Treatment for discoid lupus erythematosus begins with seeking medical care from your health care provider. To determine whether you have discoid lupus erythematosus, you will be asked questions about your symptoms and when they occur, and you may be asked to undergo diagnostic testing.... Read more about discoid lupus erythematosustreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 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: Skin, Hair and Nails


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