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Lupus Rash Photosensitivity

Photosensitivity has been associated with lupus and lupus flares.

The most important question is what does that mean?

Photosensitivity in lupus means that sunlight exposure activates the immune system.

The most common reaction is a facial rash but the key is that the rash is not soon after sun exposure. It’s an inflammatory process. Liken it to a skin infection after a scrape, scratch, bite, puncture, or sting. The affected area develops redness, warmth, tenderness, and the skin raises at and around the damage area. It is a gradual process and is not instantaneous. It also lasts for a several days if not treated.

The lupus facial rash is similar to that but without the manual injury. The sunlight emits ultraviolet radiation which we all are exposed too and is damaging which may result with a natural programmed skin cell death called apoptosis.

In lupus patients, the damaged skin cells die but the apoptosis process is defective and your immune system sees this dysfunction as an infection and begins to attack.

The process takes many hours after sun exposure and up to days. The inflammatory process of the immune system also persists for days to weeks.

The result is a red, swollen, raised skin rash. It may be tender and itchy. It may blister. It may also become infected.

If a patient develops a red facial rash soon after sun exposure, they likely have rosacea or another skin condition and less likely a lupus rash.

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