Lupus Erythematosus may be of several types including discoid (DLE) and systemic (SLE). Discoid lupus is less severe and less life threatening, but approximately 5% of the DLE patients may develop the systemic type of lupus as well. On the other hand, many SLE patients may present symptoms of discoid disease. The disease affects mostly the appearance of the patient and may be controlled by suppressing the activity of the immune system.
Discoid Lupus Erythematosus
Discoid Lupus Erythematosus is an autoimmune disease that occurs more frequently in women, typically of non-European descent. The condition affects mostly women in their reproductive years. DLE is not a curable condition, but there may be cases of temporary or permanent remission.
Symptoms of DLE
Discoid Lupus Erythematosus is a chronic disease that manifests on the skin through sores that may leave permanent scars. The sores are more likely to occur on the face and scalp and more rarely on the body. The sores will look like a swollen skin patch that may start to flake and become crusty in time. The color of the sores may vary, but typically the rim will be a bit darker than the patient’s skin. Alopecia may be present if the sores are located on the scalp.
Causes of DLE
The causes of DLE are not fully understood. There may be a genetic predisposition in patients that develop DLE. However, the triggering factors are known to be repeated exposure to UV rays, harsh chemicals or prolonged stress.
There are a few diagnosis criteria for Lupus Erythematosus patients and to be diagnosed with systemic lupus, patients need to fulfill four of the 11 existing criteria. However, from the existing diagnosis criteria, the discoid lupus patients will rarely fulfill four. The diagnosis will be made based on the appearance of the skin and by performing some blood tests to rule out other possible problems. Patients with DLE will not have any abnormal blood test results.
The treatment will focus on reducing the appearance of the lupus sores and prevent the occurrence of new ones, as these will be likely to leave scars. The normal course of treatment will be using topical corticosteroids that will reduce the sores. The patient may also receive oral corticosteroids, which may inhibit the immune system and won’t allow it to cause additional lesions. However, the many side effects of the corticosteroids should be considered and the patient should possibly get a milder course of treatment.
Retinoids and anti malarial drugs may also be used in the management of DLE. However, the most important step in managing the condition is to prevent the flare-ups.
Prevention of Lupus Erythematosus Flare-ups
Lupus is believed to be activated to exposure to sun light, chemicals and stress. Consequently, a patient diagnosed with DLE will be advised to avoid sun and always use sun block. Exposure to harsh chemicals such as mercury, silica should be avoided. The patient should also make sure she leads a stress-free life.