People suffering from autoimmune diseases often face complications during diagnosis and treatment. Those whose skin is affected also suffer the additional stigma of having symptoms seen by everyone they meet.

However, skin specialists can help patients with autoimmune diseases such as Lupus and Scleroderma feel and look as good as possible. These dermatologists not only give them personal attention but also participate in researching the treatment of such diseases. They help in the advanced treatment of skin conditions associated with autoimmune disorders for patients worldwide.

There are complicated symptoms of autoimmune diseases. People suffering from such conditions have to visit many medical specialties. Lupus and Scleroderma are two such diseases that directly affect the skin, and they need dermatology care. These two diseases also affect connective tissues, which a rheumatologist usually treats.

What are some of the autoimmune diseases that affect people’s skin?

When a person’s immune system begins fighting against the cell, it is supposed to protect. That can cause autoimmune diseases, many of which also affect the skin and internal organs.

Symptoms of these diseases can vary from person to person in most of the skin–involved conditions. For example, some patients with one of these autoimmune diseases will eventually have not shown the symptoms that affect internal organs. While others significantly affect internal organs. The two most common types of such diseases are Lupus and Scleroderma. Now, let’s see them one by one in detail:

Lupus

The symptoms of Lupus can resemble other skin diseases because it has a vast range of symptoms. When it affects the skin, that condition is called cutaneous Lupus or skin lupus. It can appear in many forms, and the most common is that the patient will see a butterfly-shaped rash, mainly on the face. In addition, it can spread beyond the skin, and then it is called systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The inflammation can affect the kidneys, joints, and other organs. So, it essentially needs to be treated by a skin specialist. 

Scleroderma

Scleroderma can affect the skin or become systemic, also like Lupus. During this disease, the immune system produces too much collagen. That overproduction of collagen causes the skin to tighten and stiff and rigid. Furthermore, when Scleroderma is localized or affects a person’s skin, it can be of two types.

Morphea: which manifests as oval patches

Linear: which shows up as streaks of hard patches.

Moreover, in systemic Scleroderma, as it can develop slowly or quickly, the internal organs such as the lungs, kidneys, and heart are affected.

What are the leading causes of these diseases?

The exact causes of these autoimmune diseases that affect the skin are still unknown. Although the dermatologists are continuously researching to help better understand and treat them.

For example, 

  • Lupus is known to be set off by sun exposure. While the specific stressors in some people, the underlying reasons for the disease are still unknown and under investigation. Some medications, including anti-fungal and hypertensives, have been implicated in the onset of Lupus. As a result, symptoms generally go away, and after that, the drug is no longer used.
  • The actual reason for Scleroderma is also still unknown. Like Lupus, some environmental factors may play a role. That may include some industrial toxins like epoxy resins and silica. Genetics may also play a substantial role in causing these diseases.

Which people are most commonly affected by these skin disorders? 

Lupus can develop in patients of any sex, age, race, or ethnicity, but it is more likely to develop in women in their 20s and 30s. Same in the case of Scleroderma, which is somewhat rare. It can generally affect adults in their 30s to 50s and commonly affects women. But it can still appear in every age group, race, sex, and ethnicity.

How can dermatologists diagnose autoimmune diseases?

Initially, Lupus and Scleroderma are difficult to diagnose because they both have symptoms that can resemble many other diseases. For example, Lupus can have fever and fatigue symptoms, while Scleroderma has heartburn symptoms.

When you notice the first symptom, which is usually a skin rash that does not go away or becomes worse with time, you should visit a skin specialist as soon as possible. He will discuss its symptoms, your personal medical history, and your family history. In addition, a dermatologist can suggest you blood and other laboratory tests, which may include a biopsy of the skin in some exceptional cases of potential Scleroderma.

The patient may then be recommended to the rheumatologist, who will have more experience in diagnosing the internal symptoms of the disease. Depending on their symptoms, a patient may get treatment from a skin specialist, rheumatologist, or sometimes from both.

What are the possible treatments for these autoimmune diseases?

There are currently no curative treatments for this autoimmune disease, but fortunately, there are some courses that can lead to a reduction in flare-ups or periods of remission. Moreover, an extensive range of options may be used singularly or combined with others depending on the symptoms. Usually, the signs that appear on the skin are the first and sometimes the only ones. Those are comparatively easier to treat than those that affect internal organs.

Lupus Treatment 

In some patients, anti-inflammatory drugs like Motrin (ibuprofen) may be used to treat swelling and pain. Another option for treating inflammation is corticosteroids, although it has a high risk of contracting infections.

Moreover, some anti-malarial drugs, including Plaquenil, are also used to treat Lupus because they have been shown to alleviate joint pain, help reduce flare-ups and improve skin rashes significantly. Sometimes skin specialists may suggest immune- suppressants like Azasan, which suppress the immune system to prevent it from attacking other body cells.

Additionally, ultraviolet light can cause flare-ups, so patients should be cautious with sun exposure. They are suggested to wear sun-protective clothing, hats, and sunscreen with a high SPF.

Scleroderma Treatment 

As in patients with Scleroderma, vascular diseases can commonly occur, so medicines used for the blood pressure may be used to open up the blood vessels. Like Lupus, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, and immune- suppressants can also help reduce symptoms of Scleroderma.

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