Lupus erythematosus is an inflammatory disorder of the immune system wherein the immune system attacks the body’s own organs and systems. There are different types of lupus erythematosus, including systemic, discoid, neonatal and tumid. Tumid lupus erythematosus, or TLE, is perhaps the rarest form. However, advances in medical treatment have become extremely successful, and most patients with tumid lupus erythematosus are still able to comfortable lives.

Tumid Lupus Erythematosus Explained

While all types of lupus erythematosus are caused by an autoimmune response, they each affect distinct areas of the body and often stem from varied and misguided responses by the immune system. Tumid lupus erythematosus is actually a variation of discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE), as both types of lupus affect the skin. Debate is ongoing in the medical community as to whether or not the tumid form is actually a variation, or simply consistent in nature with known cutaneous forms of lupus erythematosus, like discoid lupus. Tumid lupus erythematosus, however, does appear to penetrate the skin more deeply than the discoid form of lupus.

Signs and Symptoms

In order for treatment of tumid lupus to be effective, patients need to seek medical attention at the first onset of the symptoms. It is important to note that no two patients are likely to experience the exact same symptoms. For this reason, patients should be aware of all possible signs and symptoms related to tumid lupus:

  • Red rash of the face, typically covering the cheeks and bridge of the nose
  • Skin lesions
  • Sun Sensitivity
  • Fever

Risk Factors

The originating cause of tumid lupus erythematosus stills remains a mystery. However, after years of scientific study, medical researchers have been able to identify some key contributing factors. Risk factors can include:

  • Ethnicity, with forms of lupus being more common in patients of African, Asian and Spanish decent.
  • Excessive sun exposure. It is not altogether clear which patients are more likely to be susceptible to sun exposure that would cause tumid lupus erythematosus, but it is suspected that sunlight may cause proteins to develop on the surface of the skin. Antibodies within the body are in direct conflict with this as they attach to these proteins and create a misguided response from the immune system.
  • Epstein-Barr virus. Patients who are infected with the Epstein-Barr virus at any point throughout their lives are more likely to develop tumid lupus erythematosus, although the reasoning for this is not scientifically clear.

In addition, patients with other types of autoimmune disorders like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Graves’ disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, Crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis are at an elevated risk for developing tumid lupus erythematosus. For reasons unknown, women are much more likely than men to develop this particular form of lupus.

Methods of Treatment

Treating tumid lupus erythematosus can be done with both oral and topical medications. Oral anti-inflammatory drugs like naproxen sodium or ibuprofen can be helpful at systemically alleviating swelling and inflammation. Topical corticosteroids are also commonly prescribed for patients with tumid lupus erythematosus.