Cutaneous Involvement in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: A Review for the Rheumatologist

J Rheumatol. 2023 Jan;50(1):27-35. doi: 10.3899/jrheum.220089. Epub 2022 Sep 15.


The majority of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) have cutaneous manifestations at some point in their disease course. The skin findings in SLE are classified as SLE-specific or SLE-nonspecific based on histopathologic findings. SLE-specific skin diseases include chronic cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE), subacute CLE, and acute CLE. There are subsets of skin lesions within each group and the likelihood of associated SLE varies among them. SLE-nonspecific lesions are more common in patients with SLE and tend to coincide with active systemic disease. SLE-nonspecific lesions may be seen as a feature of another disease process, including other connective tissue diseases. It is important for the rheumatologist to be familiar with the spectrum of cutaneous diseases in SLE to help prognosticate the likelihood of systemic disease and to ensure patients receive timely dermatologic care with the goal of controlling disease activity to prevent damage.

Keywords: autoimmune; skin; systemic lupus erythematosus.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Cutaneous*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic* / complications
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic* / pathology
  • Motivation
  • Rheumatologists