What are the types of lupus erythematosus ?

There are three types:

  • -Systemic (or acute) lupus erythematosus: important involvement of the internal organs with or without skin manifestations.
  • -Subacute lupus erythematosus: moderate internal involvement with cutaneous manifestations.
  • -Discoid (or chronic) lupus erythematosus: skin involvement only.



How does lupus erythematosus appear on the skin?

Generally speaking, people with lupus are very sensitive to sunlight (photosensibility).



Systemic lupus erythematosus is caracterised by a “butterfly” eruption (rash) on the face:

  • -The rash on the cheeks are the “wings”  of the butterfly.
  • -The rash on the nose is the “body” of the butterfly.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus



Patients with subacute lupus erythematosus can develop a skin rash:

  • -Which can be scaly (as in psoriasis) or simply appear as redness on otherwise smooth skin.
  • -Which is localized on sun-exposed areas, more likely so on the face and back of the forearms.



In discoid (chronic) lupus erythematous (but also in the other types) patients can develop:

  • -dark elevated lesions which feel rough when touched.
  • -even rougher lesions at the orifices of the hair follicles.

Discoid Lupus Erythematosus



Does lupus erythematosus only affect the skin?

In all types, mouth ulcers can appear.

The kidneys, joints, wrapping membranes of the heart (pericardium) and lungs (pleura), brain, cells in the blood can all be involved in systemic lupus erythematosus, even if the skin isn’t.



I am sunburnt. Do I have lupus erythematosus?

Being sunburnt with a redness on the face which looks like a butterfly rash does not necessarily mean that you have lupus erythematosus or that you may be at increased risk of having it one day.



If in doubt, consult a dermatologist.