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Home :: Skin Disorders :: Discoid Lupus Erythematosus

Discoid Lupus Erythematosus - Symptoms And Treatment

Discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE) is a form of lupus erythematosus marked by chronic skin eruptions that, if untreated, can lead to scarring and permanent disfigurement. About 1 out of 20 patients with OLE later develops systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Causes Discoid Lupus Erythematosus

The exact cause of Discoid lupus erythematosus is unknown, but some evidence suggests an autoimmune defect. An estimated 60% of patients with DLE are women in their late twenties or older. This dis­ease is rare in children.


DLE lesions are raised, red, scaling plaques, with follicular plugging and central atrophy. The raised edges and sunken centers give them a coinlike appearance. Although these lesions can appear anywhere on the body, they usually erupt on the face, scalp, ears, neck, and arms or on any part of the body that's exposed to sunlight.

Such lesions can resolve completely or may cause hypopigmentation or hyperpigmentation, atrophy, and scarring. Facial plaques sometimes assume the butterfly pattern characteristic of SLE. Hair tends to become brittle or may fall out in patches; alopecia can be permanent.


As a rule, the patient history and the appearance of the rash itself are diagnostic. A lupus erythematosus cell test is positive in fewer than 10% of patients. A skin biopsy of lesions reveals immunoglobulins or complement components. SLE must be ruled out.

Treatment of Discoid Lupus Erythematosus

Patients with DLE should avoid prolonged exposure to the sun, fluorescent lighting, or reflected sunlight. They should wear protective clothing, use sunscreening agents, avoid engaging in outdoor activities during periods of most intense sunlight (between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. ), and report any changes in the lesions. Drug treatment consists of topical, intralesional, or systemic medication, as in SLE.

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