Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) – Discoid Lupus

Lupus is an autoimmune disease and is classified under the umbrella of arthritis. The disease can affect various parts of the body including the skin, joints, blood, and kidneys. With lupus, the immune system loses its ability to tell the difference between foreign substances and its own cells and tissues. The body fights with itself. This response causes inflammation, injury to tissues, fatigue, and pain. The disease can vary from mild, affecting only a few organs, to life threatening. While the exact cause(s) of lupus is unknown, there are environmental and genetic factors. Scientists believe there is a genetic predisposition to the disease, and environmental factors may play a role in triggering the disease including infections, antibiotics, extreme stress, and certain drugs.

There are three types of lupus: discoid, systemic, and drug-induced. Discoid is usually limited to the skin and is identified by a rash that may appear on the face, neck, and scalp. The rash on the face is usually called a butterfly rash. Systemic lupus erythematosus, also called SLE, is usually more severe and can affect almost any organ in the body. No two individuals affected by SLE will have the same symptoms. This form of lupus can have periods of remission (very few or no symptoms evident) to flares (active disease activity). Drug-induced lupus occurs after the use of certain prescribed drugs. Symptoms are similar to SLE. Drugs commonly connected with drug-induced lupus are hydralazine (used to treat high blood pressure or hypertension) and procainamide (used to treat irregular heart rhythms). This form of lupus is more common in men and only affects about four percent of individuals who take these drugs.

Review the Lupus Fact Sheet for more information about lupus or visit the Lupus Foundation of America, Inc. for more details regarding the types, cause, symptoms, diagnosis, laboratory tests, treatment, prognosis, and lupus and pregnancy.

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