What does a lupus sun rash look like?

Many people with lupus are unusually sensitive to the sun and other forms of ultraviolet light. A day at the beach may trigger a skin rash in areas exposed to sunlight and may worsen other lupus symptoms. Certain medications can make people with lupus even more sensitive to UV light.

Sometimes, a rash or other sign of lupus causes a symptom like itch or pain. If you have symptoms, tell your dermatologist. Treatment can help get rid of these symptoms until your skin clears.

Some people with lupus develop a condition called Raynaud’s phenomenon. Their fingers and toes become painful, numb, and tingly in response to cold temperatures or emotional stress. This happens when small blood vessels spasm and restrict blood flow to the area. During an attack, the fingers and toes may turn white or blue. People can also have Raynaud’s without having lupus or any serious health complications.

Lupus Rash On Back Triggered By Sun Photograph by Dr P. Marazzi/science ...

What Causes a Lupus Sun Rash

Instead of developing a rash that looks like eczema or psoriasis, some people with this type of cutaneous lupus get a ring-like rash from the sun. A small percentage of people will develop both this ring-like rash and the one that looks like eczema or psoriasis.

While it would be virtually impossible to shield yourself from every UV ray, there are a host of protective measures you can take to reduce your UV exposure and, in turn, your risk of a lupus flare. Here are some steps you or a loved one can take to protect against the sun or indoor lighting.

10) Pulse Picture Library/CMP Images

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The UV exposure delivered by tanning beds is a sure risk to those with lupus. UV rays from a tanning bed can cause new or worsening lupus skin lesions.

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Discoid lupus can cause sores inside the mouth. People who have lupus can also develop sores inside their nose, eyes, or vagina. These sores can feel uncomfortable.

When lupus affects the nails, it can cause:

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Images 6,7: Used with permission of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. J Am Acad Dermatol 2020;83:343-63.

Images 14-15: Used with permission of DermNet NZ.

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Also be sure to get plenty of rest. Some people with lupus need up to 12 hours of sleep a night.

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Image 1: Used with permission of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. J Am Acad Dermatol 2010;62:667-71.

The most common heart problem linked to lupus is an inflammation of the sac around the heart. This may cause severe pain in the left side of the chest. People with lupus are also more likely to develop plaques that narrow or clog the arteries. This can lead to coronary artery disease. Other complications include heart valve disease and inflammation of the heart muscle. Call 911 immediately for chest pain, rather than trying figure out the cause yourself.

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