Smoking Exposure Predicts Lupus Skin Disease Issues and Damage
A link exists between exposure to smoking and development of cutaneous lupus also known as lupus skin disease. And skin issues and damage increase according to the amount a person has smoked over a period of time (called a pack-year). One pack-year is the equivalent of 20 cigarettes smoked per day.
Researchers studied a group of 632 people with lupus who smoke. Their smoking patterns were charted as low (<5 pack-years), medium (5-10) and high (>10 pack-years). Non-white people with lupus (Black – 51% and Other – 11%) were more likely to smoke than White people with lupus (41%). Smokers exhibited trends between pack-year and skin damage.
People with high smoking exposure significantly exhibited skin issues or chronic damage and medium exposure predicted acute, or short-term, damage (e.g., malar rash). Even low exposure increased the risk of acute skin problems, showing even minimal exposure is not considered safe. More chronic skin disease and damage (discoid rash) was reported in people of color.
Senior study author Christie M. Bartels, MD, MS, of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and Lupus Foundation of America Medical-Scientific Advisory Council Member said, “Our study shows that lupus skin disease is worsened by smoking and that among non-White patients and people who smoke more or longer the risk of permanent skin damage increases. This information can be used to help motivate patients with lupus to cut back or quit smoking to avoid skin damage and reduce health disparities in lupus outcomes."
Skin disease in lupus can cause rashes or sores (lesions), most of which will appear on sun-exposed areas such as the face, ears, neck, arms, and legs. Smoking cessation supports healthier outcomes in lupus. Learn more about smoking and lupus.
Interested in getting research like this straight to your inbox? Subscribe to our bimonthly Inside Lupus Research email for all the latest.