Is a butterfly rash a definite indicator of lupus or can you have a butterfly rash and not have lupus?
While the butterfly rash (also called a malar rash or lupus rash) is one of the most commonly known symptoms people associate with lupus, it does not need to be present to be diagnosed with lupus. About half of all lupus patients experience a characteristic rash that spans the width of the face and covers both cheeks and the bridge of the nose. It may occur spontaneously or after exposure to the sun.
The butterfly rash appears red, elevated, and sometimes scaly and can be distinguished from other rashes because it is not present in the nasal folds (the spaces just under each side of your nose). The butterfly rash may appear on its own, but some people observe that its appearance means that a disease flare is beginning.
Because lupus can affect so many different organs, a wide range of signs and symptoms can occur. These symptoms may come and go, and different symptoms may appear at different times during the course of the disease.
Many symptoms of lupus also occur in other illnesses. In fact, lupus is sometimes called "the great imitator" because its symptoms are often like the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, blood disorders, fibromyalgia, diabetes, thyroid problems, Lyme disease, and a number of heart, lung, muscle, and bone diseases.
This questionnaire can help you determine if your symptoms could be related to lupus. You can print your results to share with your doctor.
The Lupus Foundation of America and our health education specialists have answered some of your most common questions. The provided answers are for educational and information purposes only. Consult with your doctor/health care team for medical advice.
Our health education specialists are specially trained to provide people affected by lupus with non-medical support, disease education, information, and helpful resources. You have lupus, but you are not alone.Ask a health educator