Lupus Erythematosus is an autoimmune condition that will be more frequently met in women between the ages of 15 and 35. To date, the condition has no known treatment, but there are various means to manage the condition and make the patient’s life better. The treatment with Retin A is more commonly used in patients that are affected by discoid lupus, as the solution may reduce the appearance of the lesions caused by lupus erythematosus.
Retin A is a drug from the class of retinoids, which are known in the treatment of acne and sun burnt skin. The drugs will act by irritating the skin and this will lead to a faster division and regeneration of the cells, resulting in new and healthy skin cells and lower chances of scarring and formation of pimples or skin sores. The drug is FDA approved, but it’s only available through prescription.
Retin A for Patients with Lupus
The treatment of patients with lupus will depend on the type of lupus that affects the patient. However, given that lupus is an autoimmune disease, the treatment may consist of immune system suppressor medications (i.e. corticosteroids) and possibly treatment for any rashes, sores or lesions caused by the disease.
Retin A can be used to treat or reduce the appearance of the rashes (the butterfly mask) or the lupus sores. These are present in patients that are affected by discoid lupus (DLE), but may also be seen in patients with systemic lupus or SLE. Creams that contain retinoids are also available and may be used in conjunction with the Retin A drugs.
The treatment has been reported particularly effective in reducing the warts (which occur less frequently in patients with lupus); however, it may also be effective in preventing the occurrence of lesions and sores and diminish the appearance of the existing ones. Hyperpigmented patches may be lightened with the use of internal or topical retinoids. The treatment should be applied for at least four weeks before results are visible.
Side Effects of Retin A Treatment
The treatment with oral retinoids may results in side effects such as nausea and vomiting. Applied externally, retin A may lead to skin irritation, swelling, skin flakiness, dry skin, crusting and rashes. Some patients will be more sensitive to UV rays; however, lupus patients should avoid sun exposure anyway.
Interactions and Contraindications
If the patient is willing to have a laser surgery to remove the scars left by the lupus erythematosus lesions, the treatment with Retin A should be discontinued for at least six months prior to the laser surgery to avoid severe burns.
The treatment shouldn’t be used during pregnancy, as there are no sufficient tests performed in such patients. During breastfeeding, the treatment should be avoided, as otherwise, Retin A will be secreted in the breast milk and may affect the infant.