“Lupus and Skin Health: Exploring the Impact of Lupus on Your Skin”

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World Day of Lupus: A Need to Raise Awareness

Today marks the World Day of Lupus, a disease that remains largely unknown to many people. It is essential to make the disease visible, and on this occasion, the Spanish Society of Rheumatology confirms that the immune system is “confused” and produces antibodies that attack the body itself, causing inflammation, damage to joints, muscles, and other organs such as skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, etc. Lupus affects more than 80,000 people in Spain and 5 million people worldwide, with the most common type being systemic lupus erythematosus.

An Autoimmune Disease

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can affect any organ, mainly attacking women wherein 9 out of 10 patients are female and 30 years is the average age of onset of the disease. The overstimulation of B cells is responsible for producing antibodies that attack the body’s cells, causing damage to the skin, joints, kidneys, and other organs, explains Dr. José Luis López Estebaranz, president of the Ibero-Latin American College of Dermatology (CILAD).

The Cause of Lupus

The experts are still exploring the root cause of Lupus, but for now, its cause is unknown, although there is evidence of the influence of genetics and other triggering factors such as infections, hormonal changes, ultraviolet radiation, or tobacco, among others. Dr. Sara Manrique, a rheumatologist at the Regional University Hospital of Malaga, suggests that healthy lifestyle habits, including a Mediterranean diet and physical exercise, could help patients cope with the condition.

Lupus and the Skin

Lupus affects many parts of the body, including the skin, and patients with this disease might present skin manifestations. However, it is challenging to diagnose, as each patient shows a different pattern of symptoms. Skin manifestations may manifest with rashes, scaly lesions, blisters, and ulcers on the mucous membranes, leading to hair loss and calcinosis. Lupus can also cause the appearance of scars, changes in skin color, and butterfly-shaped rashes that resemble sunburn on the face, nose, or extremities, affecting the blood vessel and changing the skin tone in specific areas of the body.

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Treating Skin Problems Caused by Lupus

If the skin is affected, the first step is to seek advice from a specialist to explore possible therapies in case physical discomforts arise. Anti-inflammatories, immunosuppressants, steroids, and biological therapies that alter certain proteins of the immune system are commonly prescribed. Adopting healthy lifestyle habits such as avoiding UV light exposure, using clothing, and accessories to protect exposed skin is advisable as well. It is crucial to use broad-spectrum cream with an SPF of 60 or more to prevent lupus-generated sensitivity to ultraviolet light that blocks UVA and UVB rays, especially in sunny areas. Avoiding outdoor activities during the hours whereby the sun is more aggressive and protective curtains can help to protect the skin from the sun’s harmful rays.

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