Discoid Lupus Erythematosus

Most times lupus that you hear about is the worst kind which is called systemic lupus erythematosus.

This type of lupus, also known as SLE, is a condition that favors women as those affected and has not only skin rashes but a host of medical issues that relate to the body’s immune system attacking the organs. Though this can be an aggressive disease but it can be handled by the right medications and lifestyle changes.

Discoid Lupus Erythematosus Symptoms

There are other types of lupus. Discoid lupus erythematosus, called DLE, has its own symptoms. This disease seems to concentrate more on skin rashes.

It can cover the face with lesions and they can also be seen on the scalp. They are shaped like disks, hence the name discoid, and although seen mainly on the face they can be found anywhere on a persons body.

The discoid rash is usually very red; it will be in patches that are thick and often scaly. They may appear red with a whitish, or at least lighter colored, scaly rim. Or it can be the opposite with the lighter patch surrounded by a darker red border. Either way they are disfiguring if on the face.

The skin pigmentation can change because of this disease. It can lighten, or darker, in patches. They can also scar.

If the rash is on the scalp then it is possible that there will be hair loss because of the scarring. Unfortunately with this kind of lupus the hair loss is more likely to be permanent. The only positive thing seems to be that the rashes do not normally itch and they are not likely to cause any pain.

When this condition is suspected it is necessary to have a biopsy done. There are a few conditions with similar symptoms and so it must be determined if it is indeed DLE or something similar.


There are medications to treat discoid lupus. Usually cortisone creams or lotions are enough. They will slow down the advancing rashes and hopefully help the ones that are already there to recover. Sometimes these are not enough and an injection of cortisone right into the rash is necessary.

These rashes will usually be very sensitive to the sun and so when the lupus sufferer goes outside they will need to wear protective clothing and sun screen. A sun protection factor, listed on the bottle as SPF, of at least thirty is recommended.

Rarely DLE can have organ related issues with it. This happens more often with children or with those who have a lot of rashes covering their body. When there are a lot of them on the body it is more likely that the DLE will develop into SLE at some point.

The person who suffers with this kind of lupus has to watch the rashes and make sure there are no unusual changes in the way they look. If so they must see their health care provider immediately as this can be a sign of skin cancer.


Last Updated on October 31, 2022