Autoimmune Skin Conditions: Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus

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Cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE) is a spectrum of autoimmune skin conditions associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). CLE and SLE may exist concurrently or independently. Accurate recognition of CLE is crucial because it may herald systemic disease onset. Lupus-specific skin conditions include acute cutaneous lupus erythematosus (ACLE) which manifests as a malar or butterfly rash; subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus (SCLE); and chronic cutaneous lupus erythematosus, which includes discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE). All three types of CLE present as pink-violet macules or plaques with unique morphology, in areas of sun-exposed skin. Association with SLE differs: ACLE is most closely associated, with SCLE in the middle, and DLE the least so. All types of CLE are pruritic, sting, and burn, and DLE can result in disfiguring scarring. All CLE is exacerbated by UV light exposure and smoking. Diagnosis combines clinical evaluation with skin biopsy. Management focuses on mitigating modifiable risk factors and using pharmacotherapy. UV protection includes use of sun protective factor (SPF) 60 or higher sunscreens containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, avoidance of sun exposure, and use of physical barrier clothing. Topical therapies and antimalarial drugs are first-line, followed by systemic therapies (eg, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, biologic therapies [eg, anifrolumab, belimumab], or other advanced systemic drugs).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-36
Number of pages12
JournalFP essentials
StatePublished - Mar 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


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