Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease. Instead of protecting the body, the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's own healthy tissue. Systemic lupus erythematosus can affect the skin, joints, kidneys, brain and other internal organs. The underlying cause of systemic lupus erythematosus is unknown.

SLE is more common in women than in men and can occur at any age. However, systemic lupus erythematosus appears more often between the ages of 10 and 50 and affects African-American and Asian races more than people from other races.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Symptoms

Lupus Symptoms

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A symptom of systemic lupus erythematosus is a response from your body caused by the lupus disease. The exact cause of why your body is attacking itself is unknown, but there are various triggers that are known to cause lupus symptoms or a lupus flare. Systemic lupus erythematosus symptoms vary from person to person but almost everyone with SLE experiences joint pain and swelling. Some people develop arthritis due to their lupus symptoms. The joints frequently affected by systemic lupus erythematosus are the fingers, hands, wrists and knees. Other common systemic lupus erythematosus symptoms include:

  • fatigue
  • hair loss
  • mouth sores
  • chest pain
  • fever without a cause
  • photo sensitivity (sensitivity to sunlight)
  • skin rash
  • malar rash (facial rash)

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Treatment

There is no cure for systemic lupus erythematosus. However there are several common treatments:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) treat arthritis and pleurisy
  • Corticosteroid creams to treat skin rashes
  • An antimalaria drug (hydroxychloroquine) and low-dose corticosteroids for skin and arthritis symptoms

Every day treatments for lupus include wearing sunscreen and protective clothing. Exposure to the sun and other sources of ultraviolet (UV) rays cause an adverse reaction from the immune system to the dying skin cells killed by the harmful rays. Being protected at all times is important to all patients with systemic lupus erythematosus.


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