Half of the patients affected by systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) do suffer from lupus butterfly rash on face. It has earned the name due to its shape which is similar to that of a butterfly wings. The butterfly rash on face typically occurs on both the cheeks and connects via the bridge of the nose. This gives the rash the look of the wings of a butterfly. It is also known by other names such as malar rash and also it stands as the first sign of lupus disease.
What is lupus?
Lupus disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes the immune system to attack the body cells and organs. It causes the dysfunction and damage of organs and many of such tissues are vital to human survival, such as the brain, kidneys, liver, lungs, tissues, skin, joints and blood vessels. It affects women more than men and is more prominent in the age group between 15 and 50 years.
The lupus butterfly rash on face was first made known in 1840s by Dr. Ferdinand von Hebra from Vienna. He said that the lupus butterfly rash on face is caused by the angle of sunlight stream that hit the face. The appearance of the rash occurs due to the attack of the immune system on the healthy skin cells and it can be distinguished from burns due to its shape.
The butterfly rash can be seen on arms, legs and trunk in the same pattern of shape. It gives no pain and is not prone to itching. Sometimes, there may be a burning sensation over the rash. The butterfly rash on face is the symptom of lupus that exposes the presence of the disease. The lupus affected people are exposed to butterfly rash on face after a period of remission and that can be the sign that they are under the attack of lupus on healthy tissues.
Symptoms of lupus butterfly rash on face
- Butterfly rash on face can differ in severity levels and may be mild or harsh.
- The milder form of the rash may create a slightly blush-like appearance, whereas the severe form of the rash generally tends to be scaly
- Butterfly rash on face may remain for few days or it may last for months also. Generally the butterfly rash on the cheeks and nose may be flat or have elevations.
- The appearance may become worse when it gets exposed to bright sunshine and it may spread to other parts due to stress. It may be very light in color as well which will give it the appearance of a slight blush on the cheeks. On other occasions it may tend to be dark red in color. The rash may show the angle of sun shine on the face of the person.
Treatment of lupus butterfly rash on face
Wearing of wide brimmed hat can prevent lupus butterfly rash on face. If you are already affected by lupus butterfly rash on face, avoid going outside, in hot day sun. When one travelling in the outdoors, he/she should wear UVA and UVB sunscreen with SPF of 30. One should also prevent the falling of sunrays on skin by using the sun shades on windows.
Lupus disease is a chronic condition without any known cure. The treatment of lupus butterfly rash on face is mostly symptomatic, which involves avoidance of flares to reduce its severity.
- When the symptoms involve SLE, the doctor may prescribe non steroidal anti –inflammatory and anti-malarial drugs. To reduce the flare-up process of disease, the doctor may prescribe the use of disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs or DMARD
- Immunosuppressive drugs are given in severe cases, for controlling and preventing chances of reoccurrence. For curing the rash, topical cortisone ointment and injections are advised.
- One should avoid smoking and outings under the hot sun to prevent aggravation. Also avoid exposure to silica, pesticides, and mercury. Go for low fat and vegetarian diet for lessening the lupus butterfly rash on face symptoms.
- Pregnant mothers, who are affected by lupus butterfly rash on face, should be under the care of a doctor throughout the pregnancy; because there are chances of the babies developing neonatal lupus. However it is very rare. Till delivery, mothers should follow the doctor’s advice to avoid complications.
Some of the home remedies include the following:
- Vitamin E oil can be applied and allowed to stay for 15 to 20 minutes, after which it can be rinsed with cold water. Cod liver oil or olive oil can also be applied on lupus butterfly rash on face. Little packing soda can be applied on affected area to reduce irritation.
- Every day, one can soak in warm water bath for 20 to 30 minutes after adding 2 cups of oat-meal in it. For alleviating the pain and for healing, one may apply fresh aloe vera gel on the rash, 2 to 3 times a day.
- Timely treatment can control and reduce the flare-up of lupus butterfly rash on face. As such it will be better if the doctor is contacted on the very day that one realizes the attack of lupus butterfly rash on face.
Lupus butterfly rash pictures