Skip to main content

The Lupus Circular Rash and its Surprising Link to ASCVD

Written By
Medically Reviewed By: Alia Hanif Khan
May 28, 2024No Comments

Updated on May 29, 2024

Lupus Circular Rash

Imagine waking up one morning to discover a vivid, circular rash spread across cheeks and nose, resembling the graceful wings of a butterfly. This distinctive pattern, known as the lupus circular rash or malar rash, is a hallmark feature of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), a complex autoimmune condition.

Lupus rash is also called Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE) and is the most widespread type of chronic cutaneous lupus, also known as Chronic Skin Lupus. In lupus, the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue which can lead to inflammation and damage to various body systems, including the skin, joints, kidneys, and heart. The lupus rash, particularly DLE, primarily affects the skin and can cause scarring if left untreated. Individuals affected by discoid lupus commonly develop circular lesions, typically appearing on their face or scalp.

The Unseen Threat: Lupus and ASCVD

While lupus circular rash is known for its skin manifestations, its implications go far beyond the surface. One of the most concerning associations is its link to atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD). People with lupus are at a greater risk of developing ASCVD, which includes conditions such as coronary artery disease and stroke. This increased risk is thought to be due to chronic inflammation and blood vessel damage caused by lupus rash.

Why is ASCVD Risk Higher in Lupus Circular Rash Patients?

Several factors contribute to the heightened risk of ASCVD in individuals with lupus:

  • Chronic Inflammation: Persistent inflammation in lupus can cause blood vessels to become more vulnerable to atherosclerosis.
  • Immune System Dysfunction: Abnormal immune responses can cause plaque formation in the arteries.
  • Medication Side Effects: Some medications used to treat lupus, such as steroids, can contribute to high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels, further increasing cardiovascular risk.

Systemic Symptoms Linked to the Lupus Circular Rash

  • Butterfly Shape: The rash often spreads across the cheeks and the bridge of the nose, creating a shape like a butterfly’s wings.
  • Circular Lesions: In lupus, the rash can appear as circular or oval lesions, typically on the face, scalp, ears, and neck.
  • Joint Pain and Swelling: Lupus frequently affects the joints, causing pain, swelling, and stiffness.
  • Fatigue: Chronic fatigue is a common complaint among lupus patients.
  • Fever: Low-grade fevers can be a sign of ongoing inflammation in the body.
  • Organ Involvement: Lupus can affect organs such as the kidneys, heart, and lungs, leading to symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, and changes in urine output.
  • Mouth and Nose Ulcers: Painless sores inside the mouth or nose are common.

Also Read: Subacute Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus: Overcome The Struggle

What Sparks the Lupus Circular Rash?

  • Sun Exposure: Ultraviolet (UV) light is a common cause, causing the rash in many lupus individuals.
  • Stress: Physical or emotional stress can trigger or worsen lupus rash.
  • Hormonal Changes: Women may notice flare-ups during menstrual cycles or pregnancy.

Conquer the Lupus Circular Rash: Top Treatments That Work

  • Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen: Apply a high SPF sunscreen every day, even on cloudy days, to safeguard skin from harmful UV rays.
  • Protective Clothing: Wear hats, long sleeves, and sunglasses to minimize sun exposure.
  • Steroid Creams: Steroid creams can help reduce inflammation and ease discomfort.
  • Calcineurin Inhibitors: Nonsteroidal creams such as tacrolimus or pimecrolimus can be effective, especially for sensitive areas.
  • Antimalarials: Drugs such as hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) are commonly used to control and manage lupus circular rash skin symptoms and reduce flare-ups.
  • Immunosuppressants: Medications such as methotrexate or mycophenolate mofetil can alleviate severe symptoms by suppressing the immune system.
  • Corticosteroids: Oral steroids may be prescribed for short-term use during severe flare-ups in this condition.
  • Skin Lupus Clinical Trial: Revival Research Institute is currently enrolling participants for clinical trials evaluating the safety and effectiveness of an investigative subcutaneous injection for individuals experiencing skin rashes associated with lupus. This study is open to individuals diagnosed with Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus (Skin Lupus), including those with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.

Also Read: Is Lupus Contagious? Strategies for Identification and Prevention

Top Tips to Prevent a Lupus Circular Rash

Lupus treatments like immunosuppressants can help manage the disease and lower the risk of developing a lupus rash. In addition to these medications, protecting oneself from light exposure is crucial. Here is how one can do it:

  • Use Sunscreen Daily: Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 every day, even if staying indoors. Reapply every four hours to provide continuous protection.
  • Limit Sun Exposure: Stay indoors when the sun’s rays are strongest, typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Dress Smart: While outside, wear a wide-brimmed hat with SPF protection, tightly woven clothing, long sleeves, and large sunglasses.
  • UV-Protective Films for Cars: Apply UV-protective window films to car windows, but make sure to follow state regulations regarding window tinting.
  • Relocate Workspace: Move the desk or workspace away from windows to reduce direct sunlight exposure.

Also Read: Lupus Awareness Month – Make Lupus Visible


The lupus circular rash is more than just a sign of an autoimmune disorder, it indicates a deeper connection to atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD). This skin manifestation of lupus not only impacts physical appearance but also serves as a potential indicator of underlying cardiovascular risks. By recognizing the systemic consequences of lupus, individuals can act to safeguard their heart health. Also, a Clinical Trial by Revival Research Institute offers hope in advanced treatments. Practicing sun protection and adopting preventive measures empower individuals to minimize the risk of developing lupus rash and enhance overall well-being. Prioritize informed decisions and proactive health management to conquer the challenges posed by lupus.

Sumbal Jesrani

Author Sumbal Jesrani

More posts by Sumbal Jesrani

Leave a Reply

Close Menu