Hiya, the first and only flare I had (so far) in NOv last year started with me being shivery all night.. woke up with swollen joints, fingers, ankles etc, rash, felt dreadful, couldn't hold a cup etc, trouble lifting my arms, face started to swell, couldn't breath or walk very far.. my inflammatory markers went through the roof and a very severe red rash on my face that was butterfly shape.... I went to hospital and was there for nearly a week, it took three days for my body to start subsiding, but not before the mouth ulcers and tingling tongue!! and a further two-three weeks to start weakly getting back to some sort of normality..a horrible time. However my rheumy monitored it all before diagnosing MCTD and getting my meds underway, since then felt alot better than I have for a good five months before the flare, had dreadful joint pain and raynauds later on>>> everybody on the board has different stories and varying degrees of a variety of symptoms, so there is no set pattern. I haven't had hair loss but some have etc I am photosensitive, but some aren't. I wonder why you are asking? You sound as if you are worrying, get it off your chest, what brings you to this site?
Most commonly for me, I would define a flare as increased pain, more fatigue, a low grade fever. Sometimes I'll have a lot of hair loss, and occasionally I'll get a rash too. But these days, I tend to define a flare in terms of how I feel - and generally speaking a flare for me is when I feel significantly worse.
In terms of bloodwork, my main sign of a flare is a lowered c4 complement. My inflammatory markers are always very low!
Mind you it is different for other people, but don't mind sharing what happens to me. I have fatigue all the time so it just gets worse for me when I am in a flare. I have a lot of fluid retention, usually but not always a two leision rash( that is itchy and when itched is painful with a burning or stinging feeling), my joints pop all the time I am in a flare and are inflamed (warm to the touch and swollen), I go through hot and cold spells (hot ones I look like i just stepped out of a shower and the cold ones I have to wear really really warm clothes and get under a heavy comforter), I have a lot of weakness in my arms and legs (it is hard to get out of bed for much even the bathroom trips), and lately we can add some confussion to the list and loss of appitiate to the list, oh and take out the time frame as had a couple flares this winter which has never ever happened before. I can not be in the sun for any length of time without the rash starting which triggers a flare. I hope that this helps you some, I might of forgot a few things but that is most of it I think. It is like a vacation lol.