Rosacea and lupus are both conditions characterised by red rashes across the face, but is one a sign of the other?
The quick and simple answer is no! Rosacea and lupus are different diseases, needing different management and with - mostly - different symptoms.
The confusion exists because they have one particular feature in common: a characteristic ‘butterfly rash’ (also known as a malar rash and shown in the photo at the top of the page) across the face, which shows up as red in people with white skin.
Note that both rosacea and lupus can be underdiagnosed in people of colour, as redness on the face is seen as such a significant symptom for both conditions. The inflammation and irritation will still be there - both rosacea and lupus occur in people of colour, lupus in fact significantly more frequently than in white people - it’s just less obvious if it doesn’t show up as red or pink on paler skin. The butterfly rash is seen as such a significant symptom of lupus, for example, that all the other symptoms can get disregarded if it isn’t present.
And conversely, the presence of a butterfly-shaped red rash across the face and nose could lead to a diagnosis of lupus, even if the other symptoms aren’t in evidence!
As a result of this, it’s really important firstly to acknowledge that red rash may not be present in either condition, and secondly, that if it is present, there are other considerations to make before diagnosis!
Rosacea is characterised by inflammation, irritation, itchy, burning or sore skin on the face. It occurs most frequently in pale skinned women of Northern European heritage, and aged between 15-45, but is certainly not confined to that demographic.
Rosacea can be spotty and angry, especially in the papulopustular subtype. It can be triggered by sunlight and cosmetics, as well as stress or ingredients in food. Many rosacea sufferers have trouble with their eyes, with inflammation and watery, sore eyes a common symptom of the condition.
Like rosacea, people with lupus tend to be women in a 15-45 age bracket, though unlike rosacea it’s more prevalent in people of African or Hispanic heritage.. They too suffer from a rash that is sensitive to sunlight, however with lupus, people are much more likely to be poorly in other ways, whether a red facial rash is evident or not.
Lupus is a much rarer condition than rosacea; it’s an autoimmune disease which affects the joints, and can lead to brain fog, exhaustion, hair loss, headaches and sores. The characteristic malar rash is only one of many symptoms. However, a malar rash doesn’t just affect the face though: it can appear on the chest, arms or legs, which doesn’t happen with rosacea.
In conclusion, rosacea isn’t a symptom of lupus, nor is a malar rash rosacea. If you’re worried about which condition you have, you need to get an expert diagnosis from a doctor.
For more information about rosacea and how to manage it, see our blog on Rosacea Awareness Month.
Recommended products for rosacea-prone skin:
Balmonds Skin Salvation
with hemp and beeswax
Balmonds Daily Moisturising Cream
with shea butter and calendula
Balmonds Cooling Cream
with shea, menthol, aloe vera & lavender
Balmonds Intensive Facial Oil
with rosehip, calendula, lavender & chamomile
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.