This form of lupus mostly affects women from 18 to 50 years. The cases of men suffering from discoid lupus erythematosus are very rare. The racial factor seems to be decisive: the majority of patients are black American women and the symptoms are much more severe in their case. We cannot be certain about the real causes of this disease but there are several risk factors like the hormonal factors (such as estrogen excess), genetic factors and environmental factors (antibiotic long term treatment). The genetic factors have a particularly increased influence on the apparition of discoid lupus erythematosus compared to the other lupus forms.
Discoid lupus erythematosus appears under the form of large size lesions with circular aspect. Like all types of lupus, it also has an auto immune character: the immune system doesn’t protect the body from the viruses or bacteria but attacks its healthy tissues, which causes skin lesions. Long term solar exposure significantly worsens discoid lupus. The neck, face, arms and scalp are the most affected areas in which the lesions appear. But it is not compulsory for them to be the only parts: lesions may also appear on the back, legs or chest, which suggests the evolution into systemic lupus erythematosus.
Systemic lupus erythematosus – unlike discoid lupus erythematosus that only affects the skin – can generate a series of severe disorders: tuberculosis, cardiovascular diseases, gastrointestinal problems, pneumonia, musculoskeletal or nervous system problems.
The diagnosis of discoid lupus erythematosus is only given after previous physical exams, analysis performed in laboratory on skin samples and complicated blood tests. The adequate medication will be given once the diagnosis is confirmed by the test results. Contemporary medicine doesn’t have yet a cure for this condition but it may be kept under control and its signs – improved. But in order to have the best possible treatment result and to avoid the worsening of the lesion and a permanent scar formation, a patient with this condition must absolutely stay away from solar light.
The skin lesions that appear in the first phases of discoid lupus erythematosus are circular and reddish, with prominent borders. The next stages cause the scales and crusts on the skin’s surface. In case it affected the scalp, the hair is lost; this may be temporary or permanent. The most at risk category is the black American population because they have more chances to develop skin cancer than others. The proper medication, doubled by the protection against sunlight will keep the disease controlled and an obvious improvement of the symptoms will be noticed.