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Lupus, Skin Care, and Makeup

How to care for your skin when you have lupus.

Putting Your Best Face Forward

Some women with lupus get a telltale butterfly rash across the face. To treat this rash, your doctor may prescribe a topical anti-inflammatory immunosuppressant cream such as pimecrolimus (Elidel) or tacrolimus (Protopic).

Moisturizers can also be helpful for dry skin, but don't get rid of red marks unless they have some green tinting, says Victoria Werth, MD, a dermatology professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and a member of the Lupus Foundation of America's Medical-Scientific Advisory Council.

To cover up lupus-related scars for darker pigmentation, she recommends a thick concealer like Dermablend or Covermark Cosmetics. Other lighter cosmetics can be used to camouflage lighter marks, she says.

Lupus advocate Greene says she favors the product line from Nicole Paxson Cosmetics, whose founder has lupus. She likes how the bronzer gives her that sun-kissed look without the UV risk. She also uses the line's "pudding", a super-thick foundation, to cover up any bruises that appear on her arms or legs.

Greene admits there are some days when it's hard to get out of bed, much less worry about what you look like when you're going to the grocery store. But she says, "Sometimes, if you look good, you can feel better."

Sherber suggests finding nonirritating skincare products that contain antioxidants like Vitamin C, which can neutralize free radicals and minimize inflammation. Make sure that it comes in an opaque bottle, she adds, so that the antioxidants are still active when it reaches your skin.

The Lowdown on Beauty Treatments

Women with lupus need to take precautions before seeking certain beauty treatments like Botox, fillers, or laser treatment. Some procedures can increase the risk of the Koebner phenomenon, which is when lupus develops in a skin area that's provoked or damaged.

"It's hard to generalize," Werth says. "Things that can irritate the skin can sometimes induce skin lesions, depending on the type of lupus. Autoimmune people have to be really careful. If there's any irritation or reaction, that could be a problem."

It's important to coordinate these procedures with your lupus specialist to make sure that your lupus is under control and in remission. "You can't do any of these procedures if the person has active disease," Franks says. "What I say is, 'You can't redecorate the house until you put the fire out.'"

Franks also recommends that patients undergoing procedures take a disease-modifying agent, such as an antimalarial drug, to avoid the Koebner phenomenon.

Seeking treatment to manage your lupus should be a critical part of your beauty regimen. "It's not just a matter of getting rid of the blemishes that are there, but trying to prevent new ones," Werth says.

Figuring out what works best for you is the optimal solution. "I have lupus, but I'm not lupus all the time," Greene says. "You can adjust your life and live beautifully."

Reviewed on May 23, 2011

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