A lupus malar rash is a butterfly-shaped rash that often affects individuals who have an autoimmune condition called lupus. The rash usually appears on a person’s face and extends over part of one cheek, across the nose, and onto the other cheek. It may be flat or appear raised off the surface of the skin. Usually, this type or rash doesn't cause pain or itching, though some people do experience itching or burning along with it. A lupus malar rash may be aggravated by exposure to the sun, lupus flareups, or even stress.
Lupus is a condition in which a person’s immune system attacks healthy tissues of the body. The immune system does this because it mistakes healthy tissues for foreign invaders. The symptoms this causes include achy, swollen joints; swollen hands and knees; fever; fatigue; and weight loss. Sometimes a person with this condition may also experience hair loss, seizures, sores in the mouth or nose, chest pain, and depression. A rash is one of the most recognizable symptoms of lupus and is often one of the first to develop.
The butterfly shape of the rash is familiar to many people. It can, however, appear in different forms. For example, it may cover the bridge of a person’s nose and only one cheek in some cases. Sometimes it may appear on other parts of the body as well. For example, a person may develop a butterfly-shaped rash on his arms or legs. Sometimes a lupus malar rash may even show up on a person’s trunk.
The general appearance of the rash may vary as well. Sometimes the rash is severe and marked by a scaly look. When it goes away, it may leave scarring in its wake. In other cases, it is mild and seems to resemble a bit of flushing in the area. Additionally, lupus malar rashes may vary in terms of how long they last; sometimes they last for a matter of weeks, but in other cases, they may last for months.
A lupus malar rash is typically caused by exposure to the sun. It follows the path of ultraviolet rays that hit the skin, which is why it is butterfly shaped. Avoiding sun exposure and wearing a strong sunscreen may help prevent this rash. At the very least, taking these steps may help lower one’s risk of aggravating an existing rash.