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What is the Connection Between Rosacea and Lupus?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Rosacea and lupus are not linked in their etiology, but many lupus patients are initially misdiagnosed with rosacea. The primary reason for this is that lupus patients often exhibit a noticeable skin rash that has many of the characteristics of a breakout caused by rosacea. Since rosacea primarily effects the face, patients who do not have many of the other most common lupus symptoms may begin rosacea treatments until additional symptoms appear.

The similarities between rosacea and lupus tend to stop with the facial rash or swelling. Rosacea is a skin condition which causes flushing, swelling, itching, and redness — most commonly occurring on the face. Other symptoms can include prominent veins, redness on the nose accompanied by a bulbous or round shape, and a tendency to blush more often than most. These symptoms often come in cycles, with certain activities or situations causing them to flare up.

Lupus is an autoimmune disorder which can cause a wide range of symptoms. They can include a butterfly-shaped rash on the face, fatigue, chronic pain, organ malfunction, and stiffness in the joints. It is a form or arthritis, and causes many of the same symptoms as the more common variations of the condition. Medication may help to slow down progression of symptoms, and some patients go into remission and remain symptom free for many years.

There is a danger in doctors mistaking lupus for rosacea in some patients. Since lupus sometimes impacts various organ systems in the body, failure to treat the proper condition could cause long-term problems. Patients may also endure pain and severe discomfort for longer than necessary since prescription medications are often able to alleviate many symptoms of lupus.

Medical professionals and patients can work together to allow for the proper diagnosis of rosacea and lupus. Patients should be aware of additional symptoms to watch out for so that they can give their doctors an accurate description of changes they are experiencing. Additionally, since rosacea symptoms tend to have specific triggers, patients can pay careful attention to whether or not their facial rash occurs in correlation with certain events of activities or if it is a constant presence. Common triggers for rosacea are sunlight exposure, stress, warm weather, and certain foods such as alcohol and spicy dishes.

Lupus patients generally must exhibit several common symptoms before a diagnosis will be made. That said, some doctors will begin treatment before this criteria is met if symptoms do not improve over time, even without the development of new ones. Rosacea patients should experience some periods of remission or lessened symptom severity, so if this does not occur or if additional symptoms begin, a doctor should be notified.

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Discussion Comments

By Certlerant — On Feb 25, 2014

Interesting that there is this connection with these two diseases. Rosacea itself is often confused with acne. A rosacea diagnosis can be a blessing to a person who can't figure out why their acne just won't go away. With a minor rosacea problem it is often easy to control with a few lifestyle changes. Most of it can be covered in some cases with make up.

It is amazing to think that a person who just thinks they have a case of rosacea may one day find they have a disease as devastating as lupus.

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