Cutaneous Lupus Impacts Quality of Life in Significant – but Modifiable - Ways
According to a recently published study, pain, fatigue, poor body image and disease activity negatively impacts quality of life for people with cutaneous lupus, a form of lupus that affects the skin. While the research underscores the many challenges of living with this disease, it also emphasizes the importance of providing treatment and support for these modifiable symptoms and side effects.
The study included 101 people with cutaneous lupus and assessed disease activity, damage and quality-of-life measures. The vast majority of participants were female (87%) with chronic cutaneous lupus (83%) for an average of 10 years, and over half (58%) were African American.
While overall quality of life scores were relatively good, participants reported being the most negatively affected by light sensitivity and the cosmetic side effects of cutaneous lupus (e.g., scarring, skin discoloration). Factors strongly or moderately associated with quality of life included:
- Disease activity
- Body image
- Medication side effects
- Co-occurring illness, and
- Pill burden
Compared to other dermatologic conditions, like eczema and psoriasis, cutaneous lupus is found to have particularly negative effects on both physical and mental health. The good news, however, is that many of the symptoms and side effects associated with reduced quality of life can be treated or improved. In fact, another recent study found that cosmetic camouflage, a type of makeup used in clinical practice to cover disfigurements, is shown to improve quality of life measures in women with permanent facial skin damage caused by cutaneous lupus.
The study authors stress the need for strategies focused on improving quality of life for this population, particularly given the chronic and recurring nature of the disease.