Autoimmune Skin Disorders

How Does an Autoimmune Disease Relate to My Skin?

autoimmune-skin-disordersMany autoimmune diseases, including lupus and other collagen vascular diseases such as scleroderma and dermatomyositis, have effects on the skin that often require the care of an accredited dermatologist.

Types of Autoimmune Skin Disorders

What is Lupus?

Lupus is one of many disorders of the immune system known as autoimmune or collagen vascular diseases. In autoimmune diseases, the immune system turns against certain parts of the body which it is designed to protect. This leads to inflammation and damage to various body tissues. Lupus can affect many parts of the body, including the skin.

Signs and Symptoms of Lupus

Although people with this disease may have many different symptoms, some of the most common symptoms include extreme fatigue, painful or swollen joints, unexplained fever, skin rashes, and kidney problems.

Types of Lupus

  1. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is the most serious form of the disease.
  2. Discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE), is a chronic skin disorder in which red, raised lesions appear on the face, scalp, or elsewhere on the skin. The raised areas may become thick and scaly and may cause scarring. Skin rashes associated with lupus are made worse by sun exposure.
  3. Subacute Cutaneous Lupus, Bullous Lupus, Lupus Profundus and Neonatal Lupus are less common variants.

Lupus may also cause hair loss, thinning or breakage. Hair may become brittle and fall out in particular patches.

What is Scleroderma?

Scleroderma (“hard skin”) is another autoimmune disease that prompts your body to make too much of the protein collagen and causes connective tissue to become hard or thick. The causes of scleroderma are unknown, but it is more common in women. It can be mild or severe.

How Does Scleroderma Affect My Skin?

The result of this disease is thicker, less flexible skin that can’t stretch the way it used to (or that it is supposed to). It can affect small, localized areas of skin or be more systemic, affecting large areas of the body. It can also affect other tissues in your body, and can cause swelling or pain in the muscles and joints.

While there is no cure, various medical treatments can effectively control symptoms and complications.

What is Behcet’s Syndrome?

Behcet’s syndrome is a less common disorder that causes inflammation in blood vessels throughout the body.

How Does Behcet’s Syndrome Affect My Skin?

The signs and symptoms of Behcet’s disease include:

  • Mouth sores (ulcers)
  • Eye inflammation
  • Skin rashes
  • Lesions
  • Genital sores (ulcers)

How Does One Get Behcet’s Syndrome?

The exact cause of Behcet’s disease is unknown, but it is also thought to be an autoimmune disorder. Early diagnosis and treatment is important to reduce the symptoms of Behcet’s disease and to prevent serious complications.

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