Important Facts About Discoid Rash
Having a discoid rash can be bad enough, but things could be worse. A certain amount of mystery surrounds what we call a discoid rash. The rash is not a disease in itself but a symptom of a disease, the disease in question being discoid lupus. Discoid lupus is in turn one of four major types of lupus, all four types being disorders of the immune system. We know what the immune system does for us, and to some degree how it functions. The problem is, there's a great deal we don't understand about the workings of the immune system. What we don't understand makes both diagnosis and treatment of many immune system diseases or disorders quite difficult and in some cases impossible.
A Misbehaving Immune System
When something is awry in the immune system, one of the more common indications that something is wrong is the presence of inflammation in various tissues in the body. A malfunctioning immune system will sometimes fight an imaginary invader. Our body is not actually being attacked, but the immune system thinks it is, and goes into action as if it were, causing problems for us by attacking healthy cells and tissue.
Lupus affects the immune system in this way. Lupus causes the immune system to produce antibodies which, instead of attacking a foreign invader, attack healthy cells and tissues instead. A result of such an attack is inflammation in the tissues in question. This inflammation is often accompanied by a rash. Curing such a rash, in this case a discoid rash, is next to impossible, since we don't know what causes lupus in the first place. There may, in fact, be several causes. There is some evidence, though unproven, that lupus may be tied to genetics. Environmental factors are also believed play a role in some case. Some individuals seem to be more predisposed to suffering immune system disorders than do others. If one doesn't know the cause it's not always possible to find a cure. Even finding the right course of treatment can be a challenge. To claim that either genetics or the environment causes lupus isn't much help when it comes to treating the disease.
Nasty Little Discs
As previously mentioned, there are four types of lupus. Each type affects the body somewhat differently than the other types. Lupus, in general terms, can affect any organ in the body. In the case of discoid lupus, sometimes referred to as cutaneous lupus, inflammation and rashes are confined to the skin. Discoid lupus is so named because the rashes which appear are generally oval or disc shaped. While any part of the skin can be affected, it is mostly skin which is normally exposed to sunlight where a rash most often appears, namely the face, neck, hands, and arms. Sunlight can, and often does, cause a flare-up of the rash. Another major cause of flare-ups is stress. It should also be noted that discoid lupus is more common in women than in men. Discoid lupus is generally not as dangerous a disease as the other forms of lupus, which may attack internal organs, occasionally with devastating effect. Needless to say, symptoms which are confined to the skin are easier to detect, and easier to treat.
While not enough is known about discoid lupus and its accompanying rash to be able to completely avoid the disease, steps can be taken to at least lessen the risk of contracting the disease. The disease is fortunately treatable, though not necessarily curable. It was mentioned earlier that a discoid rash more often appears on skin that is normally exposed to sunlight. Avoiding excessive exposure, or using a sunscreen when out in the sunlight can help prevent flare-ups. Leading a healthy lifestyle can have a positive effect as well, as such a lifestyle should lessen the probability of immune system disorders occurring. Leading a healthy lifestyle won't guarantee one won't ever become ill, but it won't hurt either.
Treating A Rash
Topical cremes and ointments, especially cortisone ointments, are the best means of treating a discoid rash. Such ointments not only relieve itching and swelling and help lesions to heal, but can also check progression of the rash. Applying sunscreen helps as well, not only by preventing burning and irritation of the skin, which can lead to a flare-up of lupus, but also by moisturizing the skin where there is a rash or lesions present. Quitting smoking one can also help in avoiding major flare-ups, or put another way, smoking is known to contribute to flare-ups. Stop smoking, and your immune system will thank you, and possibly reward you with fewer and less severe flare-ups.
If a discoid rash has a silver lining, it may well be that one can thank one's lucky stars that this particular immune system disorder confines itself to the skin, and is not doing damage to the heart, lungs, or kidneys. Lupus can be a frightening and life-threatening disease at times, but discoid lupus, though unpleasant enough, is less severe and is treatable.