SUMMARY Skin disease in patients with lupus erythematosus may be subdivided into two broad categories - those lesions that when biopsied demonstrate interface dermatitis and those that do not demonstrate interface dermatitis. The skin lesions that are represented by the interface dermatitis include discoid lupus erythematosus, subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus and acute cutaneous lupus erythematosus. Patients with these 'specific' manifestations have varying degrees of systemic involvement from rare systemic disease in patients with localized discoid lupus erythematosus to common and often severe involvement in patients with acute cutaneous lupus erythematosus. Patients who do not demonstrate interface dermatitis also may have systemic disease and in some instances the skin manifestations are linked to some of the more severe systemic manifestations. Many patients with cutaneous lesions characterized by the interface dermatitis can be controlled with 'standard' therapies including sunscreens, protective clothing and behavioural alteration, and topical corticosteroids with or without an oral antimalarial agent. This review presents a brief summary of each common cutaneous manifestation of lupus erythematosus, its relationship to systemic involvement and treatment issues to effectively deal with the lupus erythematosus patient who has skin disease.