Lupus: Not Just Skin Deep.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease. This means that the immune system (which normally protects the body from infections) mistakenly attacks healthy cells. This can cause inflammation, swelling, pain, and damage.
There are different kinds of lupus. The most common type is Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). SLE can affect parts of the body including skin, joints and/or organs. Symptoms vary, and early symptoms can include fatigue, joint pain, fever, and a lupus rash, especially after being in the sun.
Clinical research is growing our understanding of lupus and how to treat it. Read on to learn more.
If you are living with lupus, we’d like to hear from you.
- Please tell us about your experience living with lupus in our brief online survey.
- At the end of the survey, you can sign up to be considered for an upcoming clinical trial.
- We also invite you to join our Lupus Team online patient community and connect with others about the condition.
Thank you for sharing with us.
How is lupus diagnosed?
There is no single test for lupus. Because lupus affects different people in different ways, it can be difficult to diagnose. Instead, doctors use a combination of person’s medical history of symptoms, physical exam findings, laboratory tests, and skin biopsies to make a diagnosis. Lupus is not contagious, but it does have a hereditary component, so family health information is important. Because the symptoms of lupus come and go over time, diagnosing lupus can be a slow and frustrating process.
Causes & Symptoms
What causes lupus?
No one knows what causes lupus. Scientists think that some people are born with the genes to develop lupus. It is also believed that sunlight, some prescription medications, infections or viruses, hormones, cigarette smoking, and stress can also cause lupus or worsening symptoms of lupus (flare ups).
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms and severity of lupus vary greatly from one person to the next. Many people experience tiredness, weight loss and a mildly raised temperature (fever). Other common symptoms of lupus include:
- joint and muscle pain
- skin rash, poor circulation and hair loss (alopecia)
- low blood cell or iron levels, and swollen glands
- chest pain
- swollen kidneys
- depression and anxiety
How is Lupus treated?
Lifestyle changes can help to control how often and how severely a person may have rashes and other symptoms caused by sensitivity to light. Avoiding sunlight and wearing sunscreen are effective ways to help control these types of symptoms. Managing stress, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding nicotine may also reduce the risk of some symptoms.
Medications used to treat lupus include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen are commonly used to treat multiple symptoms of lupus
- Corticosteroids, both topical creams to treat skin rashes, and pills to treat inflammation and other symptoms
- Antimalarial drugs are used to treat fatigue, joint pain, skin rashes and inflammation
- Immunosuppressant medications are used to treat the overactive immune system
In addition, clinical trials are investigating potential new treatments before they are approved for use.
Clinical Trials - Learn More
Clinical trials are advancing our understanding of lupus and investigating potential treatments for people with it. They depend on people like you to volunteer to take part.
Potential benefits of participating in a clinical trial include:
- Close care and monitoring by a study doctor and staff throughout the study
- No cost for study treatment, related tests and procedures
- Contribute to our understanding of treatment of lupus
Have you considered taking part in a clinical trial for people with lupus?
Lupus clinical research trials are important in the development of medicines for lupus. In the survey, you will have the opportunity to sign up to be notified about available and/or upcoming lupus clinical trials. You do not need to join the database to participate in this survey.
We also invite you to join our online community for people living with lupus.
Thank you for your time and support in sharing with us.