Learn About Lupus from the Manhattan Stop on the 2013 Hospital Tour

"Skin Care, Weight Control, and Feeling Good with Lupus"

Lupus can not only affect how you feel physically but how you look – which in turn can affect how you feel emotionally. The Manhattan stop of the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation’s annual Hospital Tour focused on managing effects of lupus on your skin and weight.

Harlem Hospital Center's Chief of Rheumatology Dr. Amanda Sammut discussed how lupus affects your skin and your weight and shared what she tells her patients for how to care for your skin. Registered dietician Sharon Isaac, MS. CDN talked about healthy eating with lupus. .

Here are highlights of the presentation for those who could not attend:

Common Skin Manifestations of Lupus

  • The butterfly or malar rash is a sign of lupus but can sometimes be mistaken for sunburn. Sunblock can help prevent the rash.
  • Discoid lupus causes lesions that can result in hair loss where the lesions occur.

Effects of Steroids on the Skin and What You Can Do

  • Steroid use can result in acne, stretch marks or straie, skin thinning, purpura, and bruising.
  • To help avoid or minimize acne, do not scrub aggressively and use water-based lotions, cosmetics and hair products. Look for cosmetics that are non-comedogenic (meaning it won’t clog pores and cause acne).
  • Stretch marks or straie can be caused by rapid weight gain or weight loss. Try to avoid rapid weight gain or loss that can occur when going on or off steroids. In the early stages, try to keep stretch marks moist and see a dermatologist if you want to learn more about medications that can be used.

Tips on Protecting Your Skin

  • Protect your skin daily with sunscreen.
  • Use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and that contains avobenzene, titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. These products protect against both UVA and UVB rays, both of which are associated with active lupus.
  • Wear sun protective clothing and wide-brimmed hats.
  • Recognize that certain medications increase photosensitivity and be extra careful on the sun if you are on antibiotics, diuretics, anti-inflammatory drugs, or birth control pills.

Lupus Activity, Weight, Nutrition and Exercise

  • Active lupus is associated with weight loss. However, many people with active lupus are treated with steroids which can increase your appetite and result in weight gain.
  • Try to avoid weight gain -- keep healthy foods in your house, keep a food diary to track what you eat, and keep hydrated with plenty of water.
  • Suggestions on how to add fruits and vegetables to your diet include:

    -Eat fruit and vegetables throughout the day.
    -Add vegetables to soups, sandwiches and salads.
    -Use fruits to make smoothies.
    -Add fruit to cereal, yogurt and salads.
    -Choose fruits and vegetables that are fresh or frozen.

  • To help eat healthily, follow the plate method – fill ½ your plate with fruits and vegetables, ¼ with whole grains, and the remaining ¼ with protein (lean meat or fish).
  • To help keep your body strong and reduce stress, perform low impact exercises. And vary the exercises so you work different muscles.

Tips on Improving General Well-Being with Lupus

  • Control your lupus
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Exercise
  • Practice good sleep hygiene
  • Develop a good support system
  • Manage stress, anxiety and depression
  • Don’t smoke

Skin Care, Weight Control, and Feeling Good with Lupus from LupusNY


Dr. Amanda Sammut is the Chief of Rheumatology at Harlem Hospital and an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons. She graduated and completed medical school at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York. She trained as a medicine resident at Long Island Jewish Hospital in New Hyde Park, NY and then completed a rheumatology fellowship at New York Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia University, NY. Dr. Sammut is interested in lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, education of medical practitioners and advancing the field of rheumatology.

Sharon Isaac, MS. CDN, attended Lehman College, C.U.N.Y and graduated with Bachelors of Science in clinical nutrition. She then pursued a Master’s degree in clinical Nutrition from New York Institute in 2000. She has been working as a clinical dietitian for Harlem Hospital for the past 10 years.

For more information -

You can find more information on lupus and your skin here.

Learn healthy eating tips for people with lupus here.

Next Stop on the 2013 Lupus Hospital Tour:

May 16 at New York Methodist Hospital, Brooklyn

"Lupus and the Effect of Medication" with Mona Pervil, MD & “The NYC Poison Control Center: A Resource for Questions About your Medicines” with Luz Martinez

All programs are from 6pm to 8pm, include dinner, and are free. RSVP is required. Register online or call 212-685-4118 or email jrowshandel@lupusny.org and provide your name, phone number, and the number of people attending.