Author(s): Jenny Chung, House officer, Auckland City Hospital, New Zealand. DermNet New Zealand Editor in Chief: A/Prof Amanda Oakley, Dermatologist, Hamilton, New Zealand. Copy editor: Gus Mitchell, November 2017.
Many autoimmune connective tissue diseases and vascular conditions in rheumatology have cutaneous manifestations.
Rheumatic diseases described on this page are:
About 25% of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) initially present with skin involvement. It is important to correctly classify cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE), as it helps determine the underlying type and severity of SLE.
Skin manifestations of lupus erythematosus (LE) are commonly divided into LE– specific and LE–non–specific disease. Note that four of the nine American College of Rheumatology criteria for SLE are skin signs (malar/butterfly rash, discoid plaques, photosensitivity, and oral ulcers).
Subacute cutaneous LE (SCLE)
Rarer types of LE
Cutaneous vascular disease
Dermatomyositis, also referred to as idiopathic inflammatory myopathies, is a heterogeneous group of autoimmune disorders affecting the skin and/or musculature. Skin signs are critical in diagnosing and classifying dermatomyositis.
The hallmark skin signs of dermatomyositis help differentiate it from CLE.
Classic skin signs of dermatomyositis are:
Other skin signs of dermatomyositis
Systemic sclerosis is a multi-system form of scleroderma with hallmark skin signs. It is associated with a high mortality and morbidity rate. Clinical features of systemic sclerosis are diverse affecting multiple organs in the body. Two important skin signs are Raynaud phenomenon and skin sclerosis; these signs help classify the disease into the following subsets.
Localised systemic sclerosis
Visceral disease may begin after a long period of Raynaud disease.
Diffuse systemic sclerosis
Overlapping systemic sclerosis
Scleroedema is a rare disease caused by excessive mucin and collagen production. it is associated with preceding infection, diabetes and paraproteinaemia.
Scleromyxoedema is a rare disease caused by excessive mucin production and fibrocyte hyperplasia. It is associated with paraproteinaemia and skin signs.
Sjögren syndrome is a systemic autoimmune disorder that primarily reduces the function of sweat glands and mucosal mucous glands causing sicca symptoms. It is much more common in women than in men.
Mucosal signs of Sjögren syndrome
Skin signs of Sjögren syndrome
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic autoimmune inflammatory disorder that causes debilitating symmetrical polyarthritis and other manifestations. One of the seven criteria for RA is the presence of rheumatoid nodules. Skin signs can be divided into RA-specific and nonspecific signs.
RA-specific skin signs
Other signs of vasculitis associated with RA include:
RA-nonspecific skin signs
Other skin signs arising in rheumatoid arthritis include;
Systemic–onset juvenile arthritis is a rheumatic disease characterized by high fevers, skin signs (in 95%) and arthritis. Lymphadenopathy, myalgia and abdominal pain may be present. Key signs include:
Relapsing polychondritis is a rare multisystem autoimmune disease, often associated with an autoimmune or haematological condition. Skin signs in relapsing polychondritis are nonspecific; they are not diagnostic criteria nor are they associated with disease severity.
Hallmark signs of relapsing polychondritis are:
Other skin signs include:
Psoriatic arthritis is a form of spondyloarthropathy that can be associated with psoriasis. Psoriasis typically presents with red scaly plaques on scalp and extensor surfaces as well as nail dystrophy. There are subtypes of psoriasis with specific skin signs.
Chronic plaque psoriasis (psoriasis vulgaris)
Systemic vasculitis is a heterogeneous group of disorders with inflammation of blood vessel walls. The skin and blood vessels have a close anatomical and physiological relationship, hence skin signs are common in vasculitis.
These skin signs prompt an investigation for any systemic involvement of vasculitis. However, the skin signs alone are not sufficient for the diagnosis of a specific condition.
Giant cell arteritis
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