Discoid Lupus is a skin condition, consisting of plaques covered by a firm scale, which gradually expand. The difference between it and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is that many people who already have SLE will get Discoid Lupus, but not everyone with Discoid goes on to develop SLE. SLE can affect many different organs (see link); Discoid only affects the skin. It’s very hard to know the chance that Discoid by itself will progress to SLE (which is what’s meant when anyone says simply “Lupus”).
Plaques tend to occur on the scalp, ears, face, and chest. The main complication of Discoid Lupus by itself are scars which are left as the plaques heal in the center. This can be very distressing to patients. When present on the scalp, it can cause hair loss. Rarely, chronic scars can evolve into skin cancer.
Like many skin conditions, diagnosis is often made by biopsy. This may not be necessary for a person who already has SLE, but for others, it can be useful to rule other conditions like Sarcoidosis, Tuberculosis of the skin, Leprosy, Cancers, and others. However, most of these are quite rare; still, it’s nice to know for sure. Biopsy is essential if chronic lesions begin to change, to rule out cancer.
A variety of treatments are available, some applied to the skin, others by pill or injection. It’s advisable to begin treatment sooner than later, to avoid scarring. Perhaps the most important thing of all is prevention – sun exposure worsens Discoid Lupus. patients should keep well-shaded, and never try to get sun tans.
Some Pictures of Discoid Lupus