Lupus Malar Rash Symptoms

Lupus Malar Rash on FaceThe malar rash (facial rash) is one of the most common SLE lupus symptoms. Lupus is an autoimmune disease with many symptoms. One common symptom is a facial rash. This rash appears on the face and lupus malar rash symptoms can be mild to severe. The malar rash receives its name from the world malar which is Latin for “jaw” or “cheek bone.” 

What Does the Malar Rash Look Like?

The malar rash of lupus is often red or purple and may feel like scales on the face.  This facial rash is also known as a butterfly rash for the shape it takes on the face. It is not an itchy rash, but there may be some discomfort from the cracking skin on the face. Characteristically the malar rash takes the shape of a butterfly across the bridge of the nose and cheeks. It does not normally spread to other areas of the face and usually refrains from entering the inside of the nostrils. A malar rash may leave scarring.

Who Gets the Malar Rash?

The malar rash is present in 40-65% of all lupus patients. The appearance of lupus facial rashes varies depending on ethnicity and geographic location. Lupus patients who become exposed to the sun without proper protection can develop a malar rash on their face shortly afterward.

Malar Rash Treatment

The treatment of malar rashes usually includes the application of hydroxychloroquine  (Plaquenil). Other lupus patients are respond better to chloroquine. In some cases steroid creams can are used on the face, but patients must be careful since they often dilate blood vessels. Some malar rash lesions can be injected with corticosteroids and sometimes it is necessary to use moderate doses of corticosteroids and other therapies orally.

Here are some ways to avoid SLE lupus symptoms, including the malar rash:

  • Avoid direct exposure to the sun.
  • Wear sunblock at all times. Try different brands and always use SPF 30 or higher.
  • Wear long sleeve shirts to avoid sun exposure on your arms.
  • Wear protective clothing, including a hat that will block the sun from the entire face, chest and neck to prevent a malar rash.


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