Lupus Erythematosus

Lupus Erythematosus

Lupus is a disease in which your body’s self-protection mechanism (immune system) attacks your own body rather than a foreign invader. The cause of lupus is unknown, and the disease usually takes one of two forms: systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), which can affect anybody organ; and discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE), which is milder and usually affects only the skin. About 5-10% of patients with discoid lupus erythematosus will progress to systemic lupus.

Discoid lupus erythematosus most commonly afflicts young adult females, especially individuals of African and Hispanic descent, though it may occur at any age and it occurs worldwide. Lupus sometimes runs in families.

The face (bridge of the nose, cheeks, lower lip, the ears, or inside the mouth) and/or the scalp are most often affected. Sometimes the trunk, as well as the arms and legs (extremities), are more extensively involved.

The skin lesions may vary in appearance; a red bump or patch may appear first and is usually painless or only slightly itchy. The area may be scaly or even wart-like. With time, the center of the lesion becomes white and scarred, with permanent hair loss. Lesions in darker-skinned people may be a darker brown, changing to a purple color at the edges. The lesions often (but not necessarily) occur in sun-exposed areas.

Because discoid lupus erythematosus can cause permanent scars and hair loss, you should seek medical care if you suspect you may have this condition.