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Rashes, ulcers, hyperpigmentation (darker spots on skin) and alopecia (hair loss) are all visible symptoms of Lupus. In fact, 70-80% of people with Lupus experience some sort of skin reaction at some point. 

“This article is a featured contribution from Tanya Freirich. Tanya Freirich, MS RDN LDN CDCES, is a Registered Dietitian specializing in helping those with Lupus and other autoimmune diseases feel their best through changes to diet, nutrition and lifestyle.”

The butterfly rash or malar rash is the most famous skin rash of Lupus. It’s appearance can be very subtle, very severe, or anything in between. If mild, the malar rash may be more difficult to diagnose in people with darker skin tones. The vast majority of people that present with the malar rash (>95%) have underlying SLE (Systemic lupus erythematosus). 

In addition to the malar rash, Lupus can affect the skin as subacute cutaneous lupus (circular rashes on the chest, neck, back and arms) or Discoid Lupus (can cause permanent scarring). About 15% of people with Discoid lupus may go on to develop SLE. 


The best ways to prevent skin flare-up’s are to stop smoking, protect yourself from UVA and UVB exposure and reduce underlying inflammation. 

Smoking not only worsens Lupus related skin rashes and flares, but also negatively affects heart health and Raynaud’s, increases the risk of respiratory infections and high blood pressure, and slows wound healing. Discuss with your health care provider smoking cessation programs that may work for you. 


Especially during the summer months, it’s important to protect yourself from UVA and UVB rays. While an obvious source is the sun, you can be exposed to these rays by fluorescent lights, old TV’s and within 6 feet of sunlight coming through a window. Many people with Lupus are photosensitive and have increased Lupus disease activity after UVA and UVB ray exposure.  

If you need to be outside, use UPF clothing, sun hats and mineral sunscreens to protect yourself. Mineral sunscreens are preferred to chemical sunscreens as many chemical sunscreens contain ingredients that are endocrine disruptors. 


The root of all Lupus symptoms is an overactive immune system and underlying inflammation. Reducing inflammation from the inside out may include lifestyle and dietary changes. It’s important to discover the dietary triggers that may be worsening your Lupus symptoms.  Personalized dietary changes can reduce symptoms dramatically!


Tanya Freirich MS RDN LDN CDCES is a Registered Dietitian specializing in helping those with Lupus and other autoimmune diseases feel their best through changes to diet, nutrition and lifestyle. Find Tanya on social media @TheLupusDietitian (IG, FB, YT) or at her website: www.TheLupusDietitian.com

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