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Cutaneous Lupus (CLE), Quality of Life, & Fatigue

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Cutaneous Lupus (CLE) is a form of lupus that affects the skin. But these symptoms are more than skin-deep. CLE has an impact on quality of life and energy levels, too.

Dermatologists identify three main types of Cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE):

  1. Acute cutaneous lupus
  2. Subacute cutaneous lupus
    • Defining characteristic: skin lesions which come in two types
      1. Papulosquamous lesions (Red, scaly patches that may resemble pimples)
      2. Annular lesions (Flat, pink circles with a red exterior. Rarely appear on the face)
  3. Chronic cutaneous lupus (also known as discoid lupus)
    • Thick, raised patches that are often red and flakey
    • Commonly appear on the face, ears, neck, scalp, and hands

Increases in cutaneous lupus and SLE symptoms may be a reaction to medications, the result of a viral infection, or exposure to intense sunlight.

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Fatigue and CLE

According to a recent NCBI study published in the British Journal of Dermatology, Lupus Warriors with CLE experience considerable amounts of fatigue. The researchers used a short survey of vitality to measure the energy levels of people with systemic lupus, cutaneous lupus, and other autoimmune skin and blistering diseases. All of the people in the study experienced increased levels of fatigue when compared to people that were not living with these conditions. This shows the impact these conditions have on the immune system, and the physical toll this places on the body.

Quality of Life with CLE

In healthcare, quality of life is an attempt to measure how a condition and treatment plan are impacting a person on an individual level. Because of this, two people with similar treatment plans can have dramatically different quality of life scores based on preferences, expectations, and needs.

For people with lupus, reporting a high quality of life often means that a person is able to partake in the activities that they enjoy. It may mean being able to go to work, go out with friends, pursue a hobby, or even a simple pleasure like cooking a meal for yourself. Fatigue makes every activity difficult — even stress management techniques that keep symptom flares at bay — and can affect your emotional state. Fatigue can make the management of other lupus symptoms more difficult.

Also, because cutaneous lupus lesions may be visible to other people, they can be a source of additional stress. While it’s easier said than done, try to ignore rude comments — both intentional and accidental.

Managing stress is an important part of life with cutaneous lupus. It may be helpful to speak with a mental health professional to learn strategies for managing stress, anger, or other powerful feelings.

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How do you Deal with Fatigue from CLE?

Like other forms of lupus, there is no cure for cutaneous lupus. The symptoms can be treated with medical lotions and the usual lupus medications planned for you by your treatment team. The medications might help with your fatigue, but people with lupus will have bad days sometimes and will feel drained and lethargic.

Another useful strategy for minimizing lupus fatigue is to limit ultraviolet (UV) light exposure. UV light comes from many sources including the sun, lightbulbs, and even coals in a fire. In studies, up to 73% of people reported being photosensitive, meaning that UV light exacerbated lupus.

Fatigue can be managed, in great part, taking care of yourself and your general health. Rest, eat a balanced diet, take your medications, and pace out activities so as to not overexert yourself.

In our article on fatigue, we discuss lupus-related fatigue at-length and several other methods for reducing your fatigue and risks of flare-ups: check it out here.

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Want more information about CLE?

LupusCorner has a few articles about the fatigue severity scale (FSS), a way for you to track your fatigue and figure out how you can overcome it. Tracking lupus fatigue may help identify factors that may help or exacerbate your symptoms — check out the article here and start tracking your fatigue symptoms.

Additionally, there are topical remedies (lotions, creams, etc.) for the management of cutaneous lupus. Learn more about several topical remedies.

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