Woman scratching autoimmune rash on her shoulder and back

Exploring the causes of an autoimmune rash

Have you ever experienced an unexplained rash that appears out of nowhere? Itchy, red, and bothersome, autoimmune rashes can be quite perplexing. These rashes occur when the body's immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells, causing inflammation and skin irritation.

Learn more about the causes of autoimmune rashes and the various treatment options that are available. Whether you've been personally affected by an autoimmune rash or know someone who has, we provide insights to help you find relief and regain your skin health.

What causes autoimmune rashes?

Autoimmune rashes occur when the immune system goes haywire and starts attacking its own healthy cells, resulting in inflammation and skin irritation.

While the exact triggers of autoimmune rashes are not fully understood, there are some common causes.

  • Genetic predisposition. Certain autoimmune conditions like lupus, psoriasis, and dermatomyositis have a known genetic component. Inherited factors may increase the likelihood of developing autoimmune rashes.
  • Dysregulated immune response. An overactive or malfunctioning immune system plays a significant role in autoimmune diseases. The immune system mistakenly identifies normal cells as foreign invaders, triggering an inflammatory response.
  • Environmental triggers. Environmental factors like exposure to certain chemicals, medications, infections, or even sunlight can trigger or exacerbate autoimmune rashes in susceptible individuals.
  • Hormonal changes. Hormonal fluctuations, particularly in women, may influence the occurrence or severity of autoimmune rashes. For example, hormonal changes during pregnancy or menopause may contribute to skin flare-ups in individuals with autoimmune conditions.
  • Stress and emotional factors. While not a direct cause, stress, and emotional factors can influence the immune system and potentially trigger or worsen autoimmune rashes. Emotional stressors, anxiety, and chronic stress may impact immune function.

Each person's experience with autoimmune rashes is unique. If you're dealing with these bothersome rashes, consult with a healthcare professional at your local CityMD urgent care for advice.

Together, you can uncover your triggers and develop a personalized approach to treat those rashes.


What does an autoimmune rash look like?

Wondering how to spot an autoimmune rash? Let's take a closer look at what you might expect.

  • Redness and inflammation. Autoimmune rashes often come with noticeable inflammation, making the affected areas appear flushed.
  • Itchy or irritated skin. Autoimmune rashes can bring along an irresistible urge to scratch.
  • Rash patterns. These rashes can appear as raised bumps, scaly patches, or blisters.
  • Sensitivity to touch. Touching the affected area may elicit tenderness or discomfort.
  • Spreading or changing shape. Autoimmune rashes seem to have a mind of their own. They may spread over time or change shape.


What diseases cause an autoimmune rash?

Several autoimmune diseases may cause autoimmune rashes. Here are some examples.

  • Lupus. This chronic autoimmune disease can cause a butterfly-shaped facial rash called a malar rash. Rashes can also appear elsewhere on the body, often triggered by sunlight.
  • Psoriasis. Characterized by red, scaly patches, psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition affecting the skin.
  • Dermatomyositis. This autoimmune disease affects the muscles and skin, leading to a rash on the face, neck, shoulders, and upper chest.
  • Sjögren's syndrome. Dryness of the eyes and mouth is a hallmark of this autoimmune disorder, with some individuals developing associated skin rashes.
  • Bullous pemphigoid. This autoimmune blistering disorder causes large, itchy blisters on the skin, often affecting older adults.
  • Vasculitis. Different types of vasculitis can lead to various skin manifestations like rashes, ulcers, or purple spots.

Notice any concerning symptoms or suspect an autoimmune disease? Seek medical advice for proper evaluation and treatment.


Treatment for autoimmune rashes at CityMD

At CityMD, we understand the discomfort and frustration that autoimmune rashes can bring. Our experienced health care professionals are here to help you find relief and restore your skin's health.

When treating autoimmune rashes, we offer a range of comprehensive solutions tailored to your specific needs, like topical medications, oral medications, and referrals to specialists. If you're experiencing an autoimmune rash or have concerns about your skin, visit your nearest CityMD location or schedule a virtual care appointment online.

While most definitive diagnoses for autoimmune rashes will be confirmed by a specialist, such as dermatologist or immunologist, at CityMD we can help by prescribing medications for symptom relief and referring you to the appropriate specialist.

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