What You Might Need To Know About Butterfly Rash

A butterfly rash is not so named because it is attractive or beautiful, as is the butterfly. Like most any rash, it is not beautiful at all. It is on the other hand, rather distinctive in appearance. This type of rash is not particularly common, and it is almost always caused by an underlying disease or disorder. It is one of those rashes that is usually transitory in nature. It will come and go. Its sudden appearance is usually called a flare-up, which can be caused by a variety of things.

Wings On The Cheeks

The butterfly rash is aptly named. It almost always appears on the face, although on rare occasions it may appear on the chest. The rash will cover both cheeks, with the rashes on either cheek connected by a thin rash across the bridge of the nose. The entire nose is seldom affected, only the bridge. Thus, the rash has the appearance of having two wings, shaped like those of a butterfly, which are connected together across the bridge of the nose. The rash does not always appear too severe, although it will usually have a slightly scaly texture. It seldom itches. It is usually pinkish or reddish in color, although in some cases it can take on a darker red or purplish hue, most often when the skin is exposed to sunlight.

Autoimmune Disorder - The Common Cause

The medical term for the butterfly rash is “malar rash”. It is often a symptom of an autoimmune disorder, and is most commonly associated with the autoimmune disease lupus. Lupus can sometimes be rather difficult to diagnose, and the presence of a butterfly or malar rash is one means by which a case of lupus can sometimes be confirmed. There are other autoimmune diseases that can cause a butterfly rash, and additional symptoms usually need to be present to confirm that lupus is actually the condition behind the rash. This rash can also sometimes appear as a symptom of rosacea, or seborrheic dermatitis. This type of rash almost always tends to be photosensitive, and also has a potential to become secondarily infected.


Sunburn or windburn on the face can produce an effect that resembles this type of a rash, but is a different condition altogether. Exposure to the sun or wind can however, and often will, cause a flare-up of the rash, and those who experience a butterfly rash need to take extra care when it comes to exposure to the sun. As a precaution against flare-ups, one should apply generous amounts of sunscreen or sun block to the face, and especially to the cheeks.


Treating a butterfly rash often goes hand in hand with treatments for lupus, in that the most effective treatment for any condition is normally one of treating the underlying cause, and lupus is by far the most common underlying cause of this type of a rash. The rash is usually treated using a topical medication. Corticosteroids are often the medication of choice, although this type of medication often brings with it one or more side effects. The dosage is therefore usually carefully monitored.  Corticosteroids should only be administered under the supervision of a doctor. There are also several medications that have been useful in fighting malaria that have proven to be successful in combating lupus, and consequently are also effective in treating the rash. No matter what medications are used, successful treatment of butterfly rash will normally take several months before any noticeable improvements begin to occur. These improvements manifest themselves in less severe flare-ups and flare-ups that over time occur less and less frequently.

Getting The immune System To Behave

Lupus and the associated butterfly rash is one of those disorders that can often by controlled to some extent by the lifestyle one leads. A misbehaving autoimmune system often has a tendency to quiet down and behave if a person is leading a healthy lifestyle, and in particular is avoiding those things which may contribute to a flare-up of the disorder. Simple things such as getting sufficient rest and sleep, as well as following healthy dietary habits can often work wonders. Getting sufficient exercise will also be a plus factor. It can also be helpful to avoid unnecessary stress as much as possible.

Having A Positive Lifestyle Can Help As Well

Suddenly taking on a healthy lifestyle doesn't mean one can stop visiting the doctor for treatment, or ceasing to take prescribed medication, but there are definitely things one can do to help make the treatment being given even more effective. Even having a positive attitude can help when it leads to making a concentrated effort to live a healthy lifestyle. We can't always heal ourselves, but we certainly can do things that help others who are trying to heal us, and we can certainly avoid doing some things that can make treatment less effective. Since treatment of lupus, if that is the underlying cause, can be a lengthy process, having a positive attitude can help carry one through the healing process.