Discoid Lupus Erythematosus

Three forms of Lupus Erythematosus are currently recognized by the medical community.  Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Sub-Acute Lupus Erythematosus and Discoid Lupus Erythematosus. Discoid Lupus Erythematosus is also referred to as Cutaneous Lupus or Skin Lupus.

All forms of   “Lupus” primarily affect African American females during the childbearing years. The scalp, face and ears are more commonly affected and occasionally the arms and hands are primarily affected in Discoid Lupus. . It is my opinion that heat is the principle triggering factor. Hair dryers, curling irons, and straightening combs are the usual culprits. Heat from the sun can also trigger an eruption.

Discoid Lupus may first appear as a tender or itchy spot in any of the affected areas. The spots may be red or dark. A biopsy may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis. More advanced disease can result in bald spots that may be atrophic. These are spots that have loss its color and are very thin. In the more severe cases the skin may be eroded or raw on the surface.  Once the diagnosis  is made steps should be taken to prevent further progression of the disease. The amount of time spent under a hair dryer should be limited to less than 20 minutes or the dryer should only be warm. Care should be taken not to touch the scalp or surrounding skin with the curling iron or hot comb. Avoidance of the hot sun should also be practiced.

Treatment will depend on the severity of the condition. Topical corticosteroids can clear the milder cases. Injections of a corticosteroid directly into the spots may be necessary for more severe lesions. In the worse cases internal medications may be prescribed. Your treating physician can best determine this.

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