Cutaneous lupus erythematosus: update of therapeutic options part I

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2011 Dec;65(6):e179-93. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2010.06.018. Epub 2010 Aug 23.


In patients with cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE), it is important to provide instructions concerning methods of protection from sunlight and artificial sources of ultraviolet radiation. Topical corticosteroids are the mainstay of treatment for patients with CLE; however, they are of limited value because of their well-known side effects. Recently, calcineurin inhibitors have been shown to be efficient as topical therapy in various CLE subtypes. The first-line treatment for severe and widespread skin manifestations is antimalarials; hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine can each be combined with quinacrine in refractory CLE. Systemic steroids can be used additionally in exacerbations of the disease. In the first part of this review, recent information on topical and first-line systemic treatment is described in detail while providing the reader with up-to-date information on efficacy, side effects, and dosage for the various agents. In the second part, additional systemic agents for the treatment of CLE will be discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Algorithms
  • Antimalarials / therapeutic use
  • Calcineurin Inhibitors
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Cutaneous / drug therapy*
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Sunscreening Agents / therapeutic use


  • Antimalarials
  • Calcineurin Inhibitors
  • Sunscreening Agents