Topic of the Month: March - Itchy Rashes

Topic of the Month: March - Itchy Rashes

There are many different skin manifestations in lupus, which vary from person to person. The ‘classical’ skin problem in lupus is the butterfly rash. This is a red rash, sometimes no more than a mild blush that occurs across the bridge of the nose and on the cheeks. This type of rash tends to occur in the systemic form of the disease, where other organs in the body are also involved.

Discoid lupus occurs in patches across the body. These patches tend to be well defined, thickened and scaly; they are slightly red in colour and can itch. (The appearance can vary between individuals and also appear on different areas of the body on the same person). As the patches heal they tend to leave scars and on darker skins the pigment in the skin can be lost, leaving white areas.

Subacute cutaneous lupus is a distinct rash that usually occurs in sun exposed areas of the body. It starts as scaly patches which increase in size to form circular areas, which gradually heal up without leaving scars.

Practically any type of rash can occur in systemic lupus, ranging from widespread mild rashes similar to those seen in viral illnesses such as German measles, to small, distinct patches of rash on the elbows and knees resembling another skin condition, psoriasis. Two particular problems that can occur are panniculitis and urticaria. Panniculitis is inflammation of the fat below the skin resulting in tender red lumps beneath the surface of the skin; these heal slowly over time and can leave dimpling of the skin when fully healed. Urticaria is an itchy, raised red rash similar to nettle rash that can occur with vasculitis or on its own; it heals without leaving scars.

There is no denying that an itchy rash is horrible. However, in a lot of cases there are things that can be done to help provide some relief however. We asked you which products you use for an itchy rash…

It seems that baby lotions are a popular product;

-“I’ve recently had a butterfly rash on my face and I’ve been putting Sudocrem on it. I thought, ‘it works for my baby’s bum, so why not give it a try?’ I’ve had it since the beginning of January and maybe it’s run its course but it seems to have eased off massively during the last couple of weeks, since using the Sudocrem. Just keeping that part of my face very moisturised seems to give me a lot of relief from the itching/burning.”

-“…I put Sudocrem on them and it stops the itching”

-“…try Sudocrem, yes, Sudocrem. It’s not just for baby’s bottoms. Put it on at night and see the difference in the morning”

-“I’m using Johnson’s extra care baby lotion”

We also heard from a lot of people that use Aloe Vera;

-“Aloe Vera cream or lotion is quite soothing.”

-“Aloe Vera, best straight from the plant itself, or if not, then you can buy a 100% organic Aloe Vera gel, which I keep in the fridge.”

-“I’ve had itchy legs for years and I too agree with the Aloe Vera”

-“…Aloe Vera (pure Aloe Vera). Snap a leaf from the plant, maybe half way up the leaf. They are mostly all fat and plump leaves. Tear it open and the cool, slimy (sounds yuck) gel comes out, but it soon dries when applied to the skin. It really does help me….The plants are not really attractive but they grow really quickly and when the leaf is snapped it repairs itself quickly…I think all who suffer itching should have their very own Aloe Vera plants”

Another product that some of you used is Cetraben;

-“Doctor prescribed me Cetraben lotion. It is basically white paraffin oil and really works on itching…”

-“Must admit, since using Cetraben twice a day it is better, although it does flare up out of control sometimes.”

Other suggestions included;

-“Savlon! Or a cold cloth.”

-“Vaseline intensive care moisturiser (white bottle) is the best one I’ve come across.”

-“…best thing is to moisturise at least twice a day. Just something cheap like Nivea or even baby lotion. It is dry skin that meds cause, which causes itching most of the time.”

-“A soak in a warm bath with bicarbonate of soda” – 2 tablespoons should do the trick

-“I bought some E45 cream that helped a bit…”

-“I was recently prescribed ELOCAN cream for sore itchy skin and it worked really well. Also tried Betnovate, but it was too harsh.”

-“…Emolin spray is only available on prescription. It works great for severe blistering/cracking/itchy rashes. Recommended by a top London dermatologist for severe lupus rashes….” “Emolin spray is great. It soaks in and you don’t have to rub or irritate skin in any way. It’s not greasy and also protects your skin from products that you also use.”

-“Doublebase gel. It’s wonderful stuff. Just slather it on all over after a bath or shower, or you can use it before the shower to protect you from shampoo or soap if you have allergies.”

-“There is a product available on prescription called Protopic. It’s an immune suppressant ointment. It’s wonder stuff. £300 per tube, so you may get knocked back for it.”

-“Cetrizine and E45 Itch Relief. Helps a bit.”

Other tips to help cope with itching include:

-Clothing and fabric

oAvoid wearing clothes that irritate your skin, such as wool and some man made fabrics

oWear cotton whenever possible

oAvoid tight fitting clothes

oUse mild laundry detergent

oUse cool, light, loose bedclothes

-When bathing or showering

oUse cool or lukewarm water (not hot)

oAvoid using perfumed soap/shower gel/deodorants. Unperfumed lotions or aqueous cream are available from pharmacists.

oUse unperfumed moisturising lotions and emollients after bathing or showering to help prevent your skin becoming too dry.


oUse an oily moisturiser if your skin is dry or flaky

oUse a mild steroid cream (for no longer than 7 days); for localised itchy areas, hydrocortisone cream is available from pharmacies over the counter or your GP can prescribe steroid cream.

oUse antihistamine tablets to help control allergic reactions and help break the itch-scratch cycle – however, consult your GP before using these because they are not suitable for all cases of itching.

-Try not to scratch the area. Keep your nails short to prevent breaking the skin if you do scratch. At night you may find wearing thin cotton gloves can help.

-Some foods can irritate the skin. It’s best to avoid strong caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods which can cause you to sweat and make the itching worse.

-An ice pack may relieve the itching but it should not be placed directly against the skin. Try wrapping it in a cloth (such as a tea towel). Frozen peas can be used, but if repeatedly re-frozen you must not eat the contents.

We’d like to thank everybody that submitted their tips for this topic. The amount of feedback was great again and we really hope this article will be useful to some people. Apologies to anybody who’s tips weren’t included in this article; unfortunately we didn’t have space for everyone.

Please let us know if you give any of these tips a go. We’d love to know if anybody is more comfortable after trying something suggested.

***Please note that this article is written for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. Do not delay seeking or disregard medical advice based on information here. Always seek the advice of your local family physician or other qualified health professional before starting any new treatment or making any changes to existing treatment. It is also advised that you consult a medical professional before making any changes to diet or starting alternative remedies, which may interact with other medications.***

12 Replies

Thanks Paul for the email.

I have suffered itchy rashes for three years but have just been diagnosed with UCTD although my rheumy is treating as Lupus. Organs OK but all the other symptoms are there, 3 out of the 4 required!

I use Aloe Vera and an organic body lotion with camomile. My legs became so itchy after starting the Hydrochlorquinine, do other people suffer in the same way with the side effects of the drug.

My summer itching starts across my chest and back, scaly horrid raised rashes that stay all summer, I'm hoping the tabs will sort it out along with all the other symptoms. Floppy hats and cotton tops woohoo!

Thanks again Paul



Like the idea:topics of the month. Thanks!

my question is about peri oral dermatitis: aside from urticarias and various rash spots all over my body inc blush butterfly rash, my worst rashes are around my mouth and chin area. They are classic red scaly patches and seem to be sun reactive. For years before my SLE diagnosis my dermy told me they were per oral dermatitis. I was prescribed Dalacin t lotion which sorta seemed to kinda help (at least I felt like I was doing something to help). Since my diagnosis I have met a few others at support group who had been told they had peri oral dermatitis before finally being diagnosed with lupus. I wonder: is peri oral dermatitis just a sort of catch all phrase for any rash around the mouth chin area?

Loopylu: for what it's worth, I started plaquenil last June and have had no itching reaction


Thanks Paul its interesting all the ideas and tips i am going to refer to this topic during the summer. I get rashes on my legs if they get hot in the sun and they dont look pretty i dont put anythhing on because i found it made it worse but once i have colded down they improve. I have to keep my nails really short so i dont scratch the devil out of my legs at night as they creep and crawl. I use dove soap and rollon deod. and try not to shave my legs the day im going out in the sun, I cant use wax it sets my legs off badly aswell as i bruise really easliy. I have considered lazer but i cant afford it and im not sure im its that permenment.....

Thanks again for the article



Thanks Paul,,hey this is a subject that affects me quite alot,,through all the seasons of the year!I know i will find all these tips helpful and be able to refer back to them when need extra help!Thank you ,,and keep up the good work you do here for us all.

Kindest Regards



Hi Dawn,

I'm glad that this will be a useful resource for you. It is my intention to create as many resources like this as possible whilst I work here.

Best wishes,



Great topic, had itchy legs for about 15 years. Started slapping on baby oil straight after bath about 4 months ago & it works!! Also use the doublebase lotion that's great too. Wish I had seen this information years ago. Thanks !!


Glad to know there are other itchy sufferers out there. I'm just back from GP who says no explanation for these terrible, ferocious attacks but 'if I like' I can stop quinoric for a few days to see if it stops.

At present I can only stop an attack by getting into a really hot bath until it dies down.

Has anyone else had this problem? No rash, though I have occasional mottling of the skin. Have a referral to a dermo but nothing to show her/him.


This is the type of itching that I get. It sometimes brings me to tears. I hate it. It is on my legs and forearms mostly. It drives me crazy and I noticed that reducing my steroids helped, but was short term as the rest of my symptoms got worse.

It is all very frustrating!

Thanks for the topic.


For me, Protopic really helps me to reduce lupus flares on my scalp where my hair fell off. Also, now I`m no longer using Protopic, but I`m trying to find a way to reduce one tiny flare that left and it looks like burn from a cigarette.


While we're on the subject of itching, there is a new product you can get in Tesco. It's called Magicool but it's not the usual blue can, they do 2 others which are for itchy skin.

The green can is more for itchy skin from bites and there is a orange can which is for itchy skin in general. It's helped me when it's just started and its nipped it in the bud before the itch got too bad.

I thought I'd mention it as it may help some people on here. I found it near where the sun tan lotions were in Tesco and its about £8 but it is nice and cooling too.


I have used all of those products and none have worked on my itchy rashes. But then I'm not so surprised because I have more than one type of itchy rash, three different types in fact from scaly to inflammation under the skin. The only treatment I find effective is ciclosporin capsules which I have to get from a skin doctor. I also have to use balneum plus cream. These are great but i get terrible cold sores and dry skin on my lips.

1 like

Has anyone tried mindfulness meditation? It is very difficult to ignore an itch but this could help and it is really good for helping long term sufferers of tinnitus too.


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