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My Lupus Skin Care Routine

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One Day at a Time With Lupus

Like many people who suffer from lupus, I wake up some mornings during a flare and dread looking in the mirror. I know that looking back at me isn't just Heather, it's also Heather with a red butterfly on her face. A malar rash, often called a butterfly rash, is a skin irritation that spreads across my face in the shape of a butterfly. The "wings" cover my cheeks, and the "body" covers my nose. It's not a condition in itself, but rather a symptom of lupus. After years of trial and error and research, I've figured out some tricks to get that butterfly to fly away.

First of all, I make sure I exfoliate my face once a week. I've found that foundation looks flaky if I don't exfoliate because it sits on top of dead, dry skin. Also, I always (always always!) apply moisturizer with built-in SPF before putting foundation on. I don't want dry skin, and with lupus, I need to protect my skin from the sun, so a moisturizer with SPF is perfect. Moisturizer also allows foundation to go on smoother, so it looks less cakey. I also apply my foundation with a sponge on my cheeks and around my nose to cover up the butterfly – it goes on more smoothly than if I'd applied with my fingers. I don't always put it all over my face if I don't need it, because, of course, less foundation looks more natural.

As far as choosing a foundation, I've tried many. I make sure that I'm using a product line that contains healthy and non-irritating ingredients, so that I'm not making the rash worse. With lupus comes sensitive skin, so look for a product that is natural and hypoallergenic so your skin won't get worse. I find that I can avoid the butterfly rash by avoiding as much direct sunlight as possible, resting regularly, and eating well. Sometimes, though, it appears no matter what I do, so I grab my foundation, sit in bed, and apply it until the butterfly has gone back into its cocoon.

Heather Glantz has been living with lupus for more than 20 years. She lives outside of Atlanta with her husband, Julian.

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