The cause of discoid lupus has often been attributed to genetic, environmental, and hormonal factors, but no medical thesis gives a definite cause of the disease. Before we go further into the details, let us try to deal with the confusion that many people have between discoid lupus and systemic lupus. The former is a problem related to the skin while the latter is discoid lupus at its advanced stage, where the disease has affected other body parts like the lungs, heart, kidney, or the nervous system. A look into the medical history explains that 60% of lupus patients are women above 20 years of age.
Discoid lupus is a skin disorder, and hence the symptoms of this disease are clearly visible on the skin. Rashes formed in the skin have a raised red scaling pattern. There is a follicular plugging on the affected area that has a central atrophy. Generally, the rashes have a cone-like appearance. It has also been observed that the rashes generally appear in those areas of the skin which are exposed to sunlight. The most affected areas are face, neck, arms, and scalp. A person affected by this disease, falls into short periods of illness called 'flares' followed by periods of wellness called 'remission'. Other symptoms that accompany skin rashes are fatigue and swollen joints. If the scalp is affected by this disease, then hair starts falling from the scalp in patches. The alopecia caused by the disease may turn out to be permanent. If no action is taken against the symptoms, the problem may result in hypopigmentation or hyperpigmentation.
The first step towards the treatment is to diagnose whether the skin problem seen can be identified as discoid lupus or not. This is generally done through a sedimentation rate test that helps in analyzing if the inflammation on the skin is being caused by blood. A direct examination of internal body fluids can be most helpful in verifying the cause of the skin problem. Once a person is diagnosed with this disease, the treatment procedure should be started immediately. Though there are no treatments available for the complete cure of this disease, but the symptoms can be dealt through various means.
An affected person should avoid contact with direct or reflected sunlight and fluorescent light. The affected area should always be kept covered and the person should avoid any outdoor activity, that includes going out in the sun. During the flare periods, he should give complete rest to his body. Sun-screening agents are advisable, but the application of any other medical ointment to the affected part should not be done without consulting a medical practitioner. Topical drugs are normally administered to patients. Doctors also prescribe non-steroid inflammatory drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and sulindac to deal with inflammation in the joints.
Once diagnosed, patients should immediately be provided with medical attention. The skin problem may look severe, but people can live a healthy life with the problem if they start tackling the symptoms. But at the same time, it should also be noted that discoid lupus is not merely a skin disease. It can have a serious impact on other organs of the body. If the problem remains unattended, it can take the shape of systemic discoid erythematosus.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.