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Skin lupus is not contagious (you can’t get it from or give it to another person). Healthcare providers aren’t sure what causes lupus. They believe it results from a combination of genes, hormones and environmental factors. Lupus runs in families, and scientists have found more than 50 genes that people with lupus commonly have.

Women are much more likely to get lupus, so providers think the female hormone estrogen plays a role in who develops the disease and when symptoms appear. Symptoms can flare up around a woman’s menstrual cycle or during pregnancy when estrogen levels are higher.

If you have cutaneous lupus, you can develop a rash when your immune cells cause inflammation in your skin. Symptoms of cutaneous lupus can flare up following exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. These rays are in both the sun and fluorescent lights. Lupus skin lesions are very sensitive to light. Some medications (including over-the-counter drugs for acid reflux) can also cause a flare of skin lupus.