Types of Lupus- Discoid Lupus
Unlike Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, which attacks the body internally, Discoid Lupus refers to lesions, rashes, or scarring on the face, scalp, or body.
Types of Discoid Lupus
Localized Discoid Lupus indicates symptoms that are confined to the head, ears, and neck. Generalized Discoid Lupus refers to symptoms that can occur anywhere on the body, including the head and neck. Patients with generalized Discoid Lupus have a slightly higher risk of developing Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.
Characteristics of Discoid Lupus
The skin becomes thick and scaly, and redness and irritation occur. Itchiness and peeling has been reported, and many Discoid Lupus patients with scalp lesions experience alopecia. This hair loss is often permanent. Even a small amount of exposure to sunlight can severely agitate Discoid Lupus lesions. If the condition is generalized, the rash can appear on any body part, most commonly the chest, the palms of the hand, under the elbow, fingertips, and on the soles of the feet. These symptoms are present when the disease is active; thus, they disappear when Discoid Lupus is not active. Patients with long-lasting lesions should report any changes to a doctor, as skin cancer has been known to develop in these types of lesions.
Causes of Discoid Lupus
While the cause of Discoid Lupus remains unknown, the disease is considered auto-immune because the blood's antibodies incorrectly attack normal, healthy skin. Discoid Lupus is believed to be genetic, and it is a more common occurrence in women than men. Unlike SLE, Discoid Lupus can occur in patients of any age, most commonly those in their sixties.
Living with Discoid Lupus
While the symptoms of Discoid Lupus may be severe, less than 5% will actually develop the internal disease known as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (1). Patients with both Discoid Lupus and SLE commonly develop what is called the "Butterfly Rash," a rash that covers the cheeks and nose and may look like a butterfly. This is why the symbol for many Lupus foundations is the butterfly. There are several programs available for patients to learn make-up techniques to conceal their symptoms. Some patients have even successfully had plastic surgery to counter the scarring Discoid Lupus may cause.
Preventing a Discoid Lupus Flare-up
We know that stress is not good for your body, mentally or physically. Of course this applies to Discoid Lupus; you may find yourself under even more stress because of your condition. Apply stress reduction techniques like deep breathing or take mini-vacations during the week to calm down. Do not smoke cigarettes at all; you may think that cigarettes are relieving your stress, but they are actually aggravating your Discoid Lupus even more. Limit your exposure to sunlight, and always wear a hat and sunscreen when you are outside.
Treatment of Discoid Lupus
Research is being conducted into the best approach to attack Lupus. Currently, there is no known cure. Cortisone, both applied topically and injected into the lesions, has been reported to calm flare-ups. For more information about this topic, continue reading Types of Lupus- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 2-3.