The term malar is derived from the Latin word mala, which means cheekbone. Malar rash is a skin condition is characterized by the appearance of rashes across the cheekbones and over the bridge of the nose. It spans the width of the face, covering both the cheeks and the bridge of the nose. This rash is commonly referred to as butterfly rash, as it resembles the shape of a butterfly. The primary cause of this rash is an autoimmune condition called systemic lupus erythematosus. Almost 40% of the individuals affected by lupus develop such a malar rash, which could either appear spontaneously or appear after being exposed to the sun. The rashes may vary in severity, ranging from a mild blush across the cheek to a severe red rash.
Causes of the Malar Rash
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
SLE is a chronic autoimmune disease, which means that it occurs as a result of the attack by the immune system on the body. The immune cells attack the body's own tissues, mistaking them for foreign invaders. This leads to inflammation and tissue damage. The characteristic symptom of SLE is the development of a butterfly rash on the face.
The exact cause of SLE is not known, but it is believed that genetic factors and environmental factors might have a role to play. While this condition affects the skin and connective tissues, it can also have an adverse effect on internal organs and structures such as the brain, heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, blood vessels, joints, and the nervous system. The classic malar rash, alopecia, ulcers, and lesions on the face and other parts of the body are some of the significant dermatological manifestations of systemic lupus erythematosus. Photosensitivity is another symptom of SLE.
Besides SLE, there are other conditions that can cause rashes on the face. These include rosacea, pellagra, dermatomyositis, Bloom syndrome, and erysipelas. Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that is characterized by red rashes across the cheeks, nose, or forehead. This is accompanied by inflamed red skin, bumps and pimples, and thickened skin on the nose. Pellagra, which is caused due to the deficiency of niacin or tryptophan, is another condition that causes scaly skin sores on the face, hands, feet, and neck. Erysipelas is an acute and severe streptococcal bacterial infection that results in skin inflammation, and is characterized by red rashes on the face, arms, and the extremities. Though these conditions can cause rashes on the cheeks, but the butterfly-shaped rash is often indicative of SLE. The rash caused by SLE is red, elevated, and sometimes scaly, and can be distinguished from other rashes. In case of malar rash in SLE, nasal folds are not affected.
Symptoms of the Malar Rash
◆ Red or purple, scaly rash that may be flat or raised
◆ Rash that worsens on being exposed to the sun
◆ Itching is experienced in case of a severe rash
◆ Affected skin might feel hot in case of severe rashes
On a concluding note, medical assistance must be sought by anyone who develops a malar rash. It is mostly indicative of SLE, which is a serious autoimmune disease. The rash can be treated with topical application of steroidal creams. Also, the affected individual must minimize exposure to sun, and wear a hat or apply a sunscreen to protect the skin from the harmful UV rays of the sun.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.