Subacute Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus

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To characterize the clinical presentation, laboratory studies, disease associations, and treatments of subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus (SCLE).

Patients and Methods:

A retrospective review of 90 patients with SCLE at Mayo Clinic from January 1, 1996, through October 28, 2011, was performed.


The mean patient age at diagnosis was 61 years; 64 patients (71%) were women, and 11 cases (12%) were drug induced (1996–2000, no drug-induced cases; 2001–2005, 2 cases; 2006–2011, 9 cases). Seventeen of 59 patients (29%) with available data were smokers at the time of diagnosis. The SCLE lesions were photodistributed in 75 patients (83%), and 52 (58%) had papulosquamous morphologic findings. Anti-Ro/SS-A positivity was present in 84 of 85 patients tested (99%), whereas 32 of the 85 patients (38%) tested positive for anti-La/SS-B. Associated autoimmune connective tissue diseases included Sjögren syndrome (n=13, 14%) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) (n=8, 9%). Eighteen patients (20%) had at least 4 American College of Rheumatology criteria for SLE; 1 had lupus nephritis, and none had neurologic or notable hematologic sequelae. The most common therapy was hydroxychloroquine, with a complete response noted in 34 of 46 patients (74%) with available follow-up data.


Twenty-eight percent of patients with SCLE (n=25) had an associated autoimmune connective tissue disease, although the severe sequelae of SLE, such as nephritis, were rare. The frequency of drug-induced SCLE increased during the study. Most patients responded to treatment with hydroxychloroquine.

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