As DLE is caused by an abnormal immune response, treatment is centred on trying to reduce the inflammation. DLE is usually a localised disease, so effective control can often be obtained without the need for potent drugs given by mouth.
Topical creams and gels containing steroids or drugs called calcineurin inhibitors can be applied directly to the affected skin if animals allow this, and this approach helps to minimise side effects typically seen with oral medications.
If oral medication is required, the combination treatment of oxytetracycline and niacinamide is often helpful and is usually tolerated well with very few side effects. Vitamin E and fatty acid supplements are other options for milder cases of DLE and in more severe cases once disease is controlled. If clinical signs are severe, oral steroid medication is often required.
In all cases, sunlight exposure must be minimised with avoidance strategies and the use of sunscreens.
Figure 2: Marked inflammation, ulceration and crusting in a Labrador with severe DLE