Treatments for disease damage in cutaneous lupus erythematosus: A narrative review

Adrienne K. Joseph, Laila F. Abbas, Benjamin F. Chong

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE) is an autoimmune photosensitive disorder that affects the skin. CLE lesions can have signs of skin damage including dyspigmentation, scarring, atrophy and/or alopecia. Disease damage secondary to CLE can be cosmetically disfiguring and causes patients significant distress. While many current treatments for CLE focus primarily on reducing inflammation, there are few options for managing disease damage. Providers currently lack strong guidance on managing CLE damage due to the paucity of literature on this topic. Because of this knowledge gap, we aim to provide an overview of what is currently known about the pathogenesis and management of signs of disease damage in CLE. In this narrative review, Pubmed, Ovid Medline, and Google scholar were searched for relevant articles assessing pathogenesis and treatment of disease damage. Therapeutic options for CLE damage, including hyperpigmentation (laser and camouflage), hypopigmentation (melanocyte grafting and camouflage), scarring (laser, dermabrasion, and camouflage), atrophy (filler, fat transplantation, and flap procedures), and scarring alopecia (hair transplantation and camouflage) were identified. We found that investigations of therapeutics for CLE disease damage primarily consist of case reports and small case series. Reported adverse events due to treatment for CLE disease damage range from temporary erythema and discomfort to disease reactivation and pigmentary defects. There are various treatments for disease damage for each sign of disease damage. However, more robust investigations are needed to assess disease pathogenesis and improve treatments of disease damage due to CLE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere15034
JournalDermatologic Therapy
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2021


  • alopecia
  • cutaneous lupus erythematosus
  • disease damage
  • dyspigmentation
  • scarring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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