Coping When Lupus Impacts Your Appearance
The funny thing about lupus, or at least one of the most ironic things, is that when you are the sickest, your skin can glow and make you look as though you’ve just come back from a vacation somewhere tropical. This will, of course, prompt the “But you don’t look sick!” comments, even though you feel like you’re about to drop dead.
For many people with lupus, their skin looks amazing during a flare, which is something of a blessing and curse.
Although glowing just-got-back-from-Hawaii skin is one side effect of the illness, there are many more symptoms that make you look, and feel, less than your best. These side effects of both lupus itself and the medication used to treat it can shake your identity to the core, especially for women, who are taught to take extreme pride in their appearance.
Visible symptoms can range from facial redness and rashes to significant weight gain and partial or total hair loss. While these are terrible for anyone, for a woman, these physical side effects can be especially devastating.
Luckily for me, I haven’t experienced many physical changes when it comes to lupus — believe me, I recognize how deeply fortunate I am.
The only real drama I had was when I was a bridesmaid in a wedding for a high school friend. My dress was a strapless gown and, of course, before the big day a lupus rash appeared on my bicep for the entire congregation to see.
Thankfully, my friend wasn’t a bridezilla and didn’t think it was cause for concern, but unfortunately for me, it was on the side that faced the crowd during the ceremony. Not particularly cute, and although I would imagine everyone was too focused on the bride and groom to notice my rash, it still played on my mind.
I also experience facial redness here and there, especially in the form of a butterfly rash across my nose and cheeks. Though the technical name for this is malar rash, it is called a ‘butterfly’ rash because of how its shape resembles the beautiful insect — but a red, raised rash across your face isn’t exactly majestic.
For some people, this symptom can be extremely noticeable, and very difficult to cover up with make-up that isn’t specially made for scars or tattoos. There are theatrical foundations designed to cover these things on actors, and for a special occasion you could use a product like this to cover up a particularly bad butterfly rash. I wouldn’t, however, recommend it on a daily basis.
This sort of make-up can be purchased from theatrical supply stores or online, but it is important that you speak with both your doctor and a make-up artist before slapping it on your face. Depending on your rash, it may do more harm than good. But it may also help in allowing you to enjoy a special occasion and appearing rash-free and more confident for a few hours.
My butterfly rash tends to be very mild, so I am able to cover up the redness with a little extra make-up. In order to neutralize my screen, I wear a color correction green primer, which is applied before any other make-up.
Green counteracts redness, which helps neutralize your skin tone. After that, I place some concealer on my nose and blend it out followed by foundation to set it. I set it all with a powder.
This formula has seemed to work wonders for me, as before I did this, I often found myself getting home after being out all day with a Rudolph nose. If your malar rash is slight, the redness on your cheeks can work as a benefit, and you can either skip blush altogether or simply apply a small amount of tint to keep your cheeks looking rosy.
Next page: Coping with weight gain and hair loss.