Learn the differences between lupus and psoriasis, two common medical conditions that can affect the skin and body.

Learn the differences between lupus and psoriasis, two common diseases that can affect the skin and body.

When it comes to autoimmune diseases, lupus and psoriasis are two conditions that often share common symptoms, so understanding their distinguishing characteristics is crucial for accurate diagnosis and proper treatment. Although in both diseases the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells, they differ in terms of symptoms, causes and therapeutic approaches.

Lupus primarily affects women of childbearing age, and the immune system attacks different organs and tissues, causing widespread inflammation and damage throughout the body. It is a chronic autoimmune disease with a fluctuating course, with periods of remission and exacerbations. Common symptoms of lupus are joint pain, fatigue, fever, skin rashes (butterfly-shaped rashes on the cheeks and nose), hair loss, and sensitivity to sunlight.

  1. Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that mainly affects women of childbearing age.
  2. The immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells and tissues.
  3. The most common symptoms are joint pain, fatigue, fever, skin rashes and hair loss.

Psoriasis, for its part, is a chronic skin disease characterized by the rapid accumulation of skin cells, which gives rise to dry, scaly patches that can be itchy and painful. Unlike lupus, psoriasis predominantly affects the skin and nails, although in some cases it can also cause inflammation in the joints. Typical signs of psoriasis are red, raised spots covered in silvery scales, which usually appear on the elbows, knees, scalp and lower back.

  • Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease, with patches of dry, scaly skin.
  • It mainly affects the skin and nails, with possible inflammation of the joints.
  • Red spots with silvery scales are typical indicators of psoriasis.

In summary, although both lupus and psoriasis are chronic autoimmune diseases, they differ in their impact on various organs and tissues, as well as the specific symptoms they present. A definitive diagnosis is crucial to ensure that the appropriate treatment and management plan is prescribed, tailored to the individual’s condition and symptoms.

Lupus vs Psoriasis: Understanding the Differences

Lupus is a systemic autoimmune disease that can affect multiple organs and tissues, including skin. It occurs when the immune system attacks healthy tissues, which causes inflammation and damage. The most common form of Lupus is systemic lupus erythematosus (Les), which usually seizes various skin symptoms.

Important information:

  • Lupus mainly affects women of childbearing age, although it can also occur in men and children.
  • The common cutaneous manifestations of Lupus include an eruption in the form of butterfly in the face, photosensitivity, oral ulcers and discoid lesions.

Psoriasis, meanwhile, is a chronic skin disease characterized by the rapid accumulation of skin cells that form dry scales and spots. It occurs when the immune system accelerates by error the growth cycle of skin cells, leading to the accumulation of cells on the skin surface. Psoriasis can affect any part of the body and, in some cases, can also cause joint pain.

Important information:

  • Psoriasis is a no n-contagious disease that affects men and women equally.
  • The most common type of psoriasis is plaque psoriasis, which is characterized by the appearance of red spots covered with silver white scales.
  • Psoriatic arthritis, a form of inflammatory arthritis, can be developed in people with psoriasis.

To better understand the differences between lupus and psoriasis, it is essential to examine its clinical characteristics, underlying causes and available treatment options. In addition, an exhaustive medical evaluation is required to establish a precise diagnosis and determine the appropriate treatment plan for each patient’s disease.

Understanding Lupus and Psoriasis: An Overview

Lupus: lupus, or systemic lupus erythematosus (Les), is a chronic autoimmune disease that can affect various parts of the body, such as skin, joints, kidneys and organs. It occurs when the immune system attacks healthy tissues, causing inflammation and damage. Lupus can present a wide range of symptoms, which can vary from slight to severe and can be reacted periodically. The exact cause of lupus is not known exactly, but it is believed that it is related to a combination of genetic, hormonal and environmental factors.

Key points about lupus:

  • Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can affect multiple organs.
  • It is caused by an abnormal response of the immune system that causes inflammation and tissue damage.
  • Lupus symptoms can vary widely and can include joint pain, skin rashes, fatigue and organ affectation.
  • Lupus is a complex disease without known cure, but its symptoms can be controlled with medications and lifestyle modifications.

Psoriasis: psoriasis is another chronic autoimmune disease that mainly affects the skin, causing red and schegous spots. It occurs when the immune system accelerates by error the growth cycle of skin cells, which causes its rapid accumulation on the skin surface. The exact cause of psoriasis is not clear either, but it is believed that it implies a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Psoriasis can go from slight to severe, and its symptoms can appear and disappear in a cyclical way.

Key points about psoriasis:

  • Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease that mainly affects the skin.
  • A hyperactive immune system causes rapid growth of skin cells, leading to red and squamous spots.
  • Psoriasis symptoms may include itching, burning and discomfort.
  • The psoriasis treatment options are intended to relieve symptoms and reduce the frequency of outbreaks.

Differentiating Symptoms: How to Distinguish Lupus from Psoriasis


  • Butterfl y-shaped rash in the face, specifically on the cheeks and nose, known as Malar eruption.
  • Photosensitivity, in which the skin becomes very sensitive to sunlight and can cause eruptions or worsen existing lesions.
  • Pain and joint stiffness, which usually affects the small joints of hands, dolls and feet.

Lupus is a systemic autoimmune disease that can affect multiple organic systems, such as skin, joints, kidneys and nervous system. The characteristic symptom of lupus is the presence of a Malar eruption in the face, butterfly. This eruption usually avoids nasolabial folds, which helps differentiate it from other eruptions such as those observed in the rosacea or contact dermatitis.


  • High, red and thickened skin spots, covered with silver scales, which usually appear in elbows, knees, scalp and lower back.
  • Painful and itching skin lesions that can be crazy and bleed.
  • Nail changes, such as bites, discoloration and separation of the nail from the nail bed.

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease that mainly affects the skin, giving rise to the formation of wel l-defined erythematous plaques with silver scales. These plates usually appear on extensor surfaces, such as elbows and knees. Nail involvement, known as psoriatic nail changes, is present in approximately 50% of psoriasis patients, and can help differentiate it from other skin diseases.

Summary of the key symptoms to differentiate Lupus from psoriasis
Lupus Psoriasis
Malar eruption Silver scales in skin spots
Photosensitivity Pruritic and painful skin lesions
Pain and joint stiffness Nail changes

Diagnosis and Diagnostic Tools: How Lupus and Psoriasis are Diagnosed

Lupus: Due to the wide range of symptoms associated with lupus, it can often be difficult to diagnose. However, there are certain key criteria that doctors use to identify the presence of Lupus. They include a detailed medical history, a specific physical examination and laboratory tests.

  • To evaluate the medical background of a patient, health professionals ask about their symptoms, family history and any previous disease or disorder.
  • A thorough physical examination is performed in search of signs of inflammation, such as joint sensitivity, skin rashes, oral ulcers and inflammation of lymph nodes.
  • Laboratory tests play a crucial role in the diagnosis of lupus. A complete hemogram can reveal anemia, leukopenia or thrombocytopenia, which are frequent in patients with Lupus. Another important diagnostic tool is the antinuclear antibody test (ANA), which is positive in most lupus cases.

The American Rheumatology College has established a series of 11 criteria to help diagnose systemic lupus erythematosus. If a patient meets four or more of these criteria, it is highly suggestive of Lupus.

Psoriasis: psoriasis, meanwhile, is usually diagnosed by a combination of physical examination and medical history. However, in certain cases additional tests may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis.

  1. During physical examination, dermatologists carefully examine the skin, nails and the patient’s scalp in search of signs characteristic of psoriasis, such as red spots with silver scales.
  2. In some cases, a skin biopsy can be performed to confirm the diagnosis. It is about taking a small sample of tissue from the affected area and examining it at the microscope. The presence of specific changes in the skin structure can confirm the diagnosis of psoriasis.
  3. In certain situations where psoriatic arthritis is suspected, laboratory tests such as rheumatoid factor (RF) and joint imaging studies such as x-rays or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be ordered to evaluate joint inflammation and damage.
Lupus diagnostic tools Psoriasis diagnostic instruments
– Clinic history – Physical exploration
– Physical exploration – Skin biopsy
– Laboratory tests (hemogram, ANA, etc.) – Rheumatoid factor (RF) test
– Antinuclear antibody (ANA) test – Imaging studies of the joints (x-rays, MRI)

Treatment Approaches: Managing Lupus and Psoriasis

When it comes to treating lupus and psoriasis, a multidisciplinary approach involving several healthcare professionals is often necessary. It may include dermatologists, rheumatologists and other specialists, depending on the specific manifestations and complications of each disease. Treatment options for lupus and psoriasis can vary depending on the severity of symptoms, the organs affected, and the patient’s overall health. However, several common approaches are used to treat both diseases, such as topical medications, systemic therapies, and lifestyle modifications.

Topical Medications

In both lupus and psoriasis, topical medications are frequently prescribed as a first-line treatment for mild to moderate symptoms. These medications are applied directly to the affected areas of the skin and can help relieve itching, reduce inflammation, and promote healing. Common topical medications for lupus include corticosteroids and calcineurin inhibitors, while psoriasis typically requires the use of corticosteroids, vitamin D analogues, or salicylic acid preparations. It is important to note that long-term use of corticosteroids can have side effects, such as thinning of the skin, so their use should be monitored and limited.

Systemic Therapies

  • Immunosuppressants: When the symptoms of lupus or psoriasis are more severe or affect multiple organ systems, systemic medications may be necessary. Immunosuppressants, such as methotrexate or azathioprine, are often used to suppress the immune system and reduce inflammation. These medications can help control flare-ups and prevent long-term damage.
  • Biological therapies: In recent years, biological therapies have revolutionized the treatment of both lupus and psoriasis. These drugs target specific molecules involved in the immune response, such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF) or interleukins. Biological drugs have demonstrated significant efficacy in reducing symptoms and improving quality of life in patients with moderate to severe disease.
  • Phototherapy: Another systemic treatment option for both for lupus and psoriasis is phototherapy, which consists in exposing the skin affected to ultraviolet light (UV). UV radiation has immunomodulating effects, helping to inhibit abnormal immune responses and reduce inflammation. To minimize the risk of skin lesions, careful monitoring and adequate protection measures are necessary.

Lifestyle Modifications

In addition to medical treatments, some modifications to lifestyle can help control lupus and psoriasis. These modifications may include

  1. Stress control: stress can trigger or worsen the symptoms of both diseases. Carrying out activities that reduce stress, such as meditation, yoga or psychological advice, can be beneficial.
  2. Healthy diet: Following a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins can favor general health and help reduce inflammation.
  3. Regular exercise: physical activity has numerous benefits for both patients with lupus and psoriasis, such as reducing fatigue, maintaining healthy weight and improving mood.

In general, the treatment of lupus and psoriasis consists of a combination of topical medications, systemic therapies and lifestyle modifications. It is essential that health professionals adapt the treatment plan to the specific needs of each individual and continuously supervise their response to guarantee an optimal treatment of these chronic diseases.

Potential Complications: Understanding the Risks Associated with Lupus and Psoriasis

1. Cardiovascular complications

Both lupus and psoriasis can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular complications. In lupus, chronic inflammation and autoantibodies can damage blood vessels and heart, giving rise to diseases such as atherosclerosis and myocarditis. Psoriasis, on the other hand, is associated with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension and myocardial infarction. It is crucial that people suffering from these diseases are aware of possible cardiovascular risks and adopt changes in their lifestyle, such as carrying a healthy diet and exercising regularly, to minimize these complications.

  1. Kidney complications

Both lupus and psoriasis can affect the kidneys, being able to cause nephritis and renal damage.

Life nephritis occurs when the autoimmune response is directed to the kidneys, causing inflammation and renal damage. It is estimated that approximately 50% of people with Lupus will develop lupus nephritis, which can lead to chronic renal disease and even renal insufficiency if not. Psoriasis, although predominantly a skin disorder has also been associated with a higher risk of kidney disease, especially in severe cases. To control the possible renal complications associated with Lupus and psoriasis it is essential to control renal function through periodic laboratory tests and collaborate closely with the doctor.

  • Joint and bone complications

Both lupus and psoriasis can affect joints and bones, causing inflammation and pain, and being able to give rise to diseases such as arthritis and osteoporosis.

Lupus can cause inflammation and joint damage, often in the form of arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis is a frequent complication in people with psoriasis, characterized by pain, stiffness and swelling of the joints. In addition, both diseases can increase the risk of developing osteoporosis, a disease characterized by weakened and brittle bones. Periodic control of bone density and adequate interventions, such as exercise and calcium supplements and vitamin D, can help mitigate joint and bone complications associated with lupus and psoriasis.

Living with Lupus or Psoriasis: Coping Strategies and Support

Lupus: Systemic lupus erythematosus (LAS) is a complex autoimmune disease that can affect multiple organs and body systems. Facing Lupus implies a combination of medical treatments, modifications of lifestyle and emotional support. It is crucial that people with Lupus follow your doctor’s treatment plan, which may include medications such as ant i-inflammatory, immunosuppressants or antipalúdico. In addition, changes in lifestyle, such as maintaining a balanced diet, controlling stress levels and exercising regularly, can help relieve symptoms and prevent disease outbreaks.

Important: people with Lupus should avoid excessive exposure to sunlight, as it can trigger outbreaks. Sun protection measures, such as wearing protective clothing, wearing sunscreen and looking for the shadow, are vital.

Psoriasis: Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease characterized by the appearance of red, scaly, itchy patches. Psoriasis requires a combination of medical treatments, self-care strategies, and emotional support. Topical creams or ointments, phototherapy, and systemic medications are often used to control symptoms. However, psoriasis sufferers can also adopt self-care techniques to reduce discomfort and maintain healthier skin. Moisturizing the skin regularly, avoiding triggers such as stress and certain foods, and gently removing scales can help control the disease.

  1. Tip: A healthy diet rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D can have a positive effect on psoriasis symptoms.
  2. Tip: Psoriasis flares can be triggered by certain medications, so it is important to inform healthcare professionals about the disease when prescribing new medications.
Strategies for lupus Strategies for psoriasis
  • Follow your doctor’s treatment plan
  • Maintain a balanced diet
  • Controlling stress
  • Stay physically active
  • Use topical creams or ointments
  • Hydrate regularly
  • Avoid triggers like stress and certain foods
  • Remove scales carefully

Author of the article
Dr.Greenblatt M.
Dr.Greenblatt M.
Medical oncologist at the Robert Larner College of Medicine, MD, at the University of Vermont

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