Skin inflammatory (nontumor)
Lichenoid and interface reaction patterns
Lupus: systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)

Author: Mowafak Hamodat, M.D., MB.CH.B, MSc., FRCPC (see Authors page)

Revised: 15 October 2018, last major update August 2011

Copyright: (c) 2002-2018,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Lupus: systemic lupus erythematosus [title] skin

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Cite this page: Hamodat, M. Lupus: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). website. Accessed January 22nd, 2019.
Clinical features
  • Relatively common autoimmune disease of women, due to anti-DNA antibodies
  • Fatigue, fever, arthritis, erythematous, bilateral butterfly (malar) rash of the face, renal disease, lymphadenopathy, and serositis
  • Associated with altered immunity, drugs, viruses, genetic predisposition, hormones and ultraviolet light
  • Exacerbated by sunlight
  • Discoid lupus-type lesions in 1 / 3
  • Cutaneous lesions take the form slightly indurated patches with minimal scale
Clinical images

Images hosted on other servers:

Malar rash of face

Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Fibrinoid necrosis at dermoepidermal junction with liquefactive degeneration and atrophy of epidermis
  • More mucin deposition in reticular dermis than discoid lupus
  • Edema, small hemorrhages and a mild infiltrate of inflammatory cells, principally lymphocytes, in upper dermis
  • Eosinophils in drug-induced cases and urticarial lesions
  • Fibrinoid material is deposited in the dermis around capillary blood vessels, on collagen and in the interstitium
  • In non-bullous cases, neutrophils are sometimes present in the upper dermis, both perivascular and interstitial with leukocytoclasis
Microscopic (histologic) images

Images hosted on other servers:

Various images

Positive stains
  • IgG, IgM and C5b-C9 (by direct immunofluorescence) in clinically involved skin as an irregular band at dermoepidermal junction
  • IgG and IgM in 50% of cases in normal skin
  • Also antibodies for ANA, rheumatoid factor, anti-double stranded DNA, ENA
Differential diagnosis
  • Polymorphous light eruption
  • Jessners lymphocytic infiltration of skin