The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms and protect organs by decreasing inflammation and/or the level of autoimmune activity in the body. The precise treatment is decided on an individual basis. Many people with mild symptoms may need no treatment or only intermittent courses of anti-inflammatory medications.
What is lupus?
Lupus is a general term that refers to any of the various chronic inflammatory diseases that are marked by inflammation of the skin and are caused by autoimmunity. Classic lupus is also termed systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and typically initially appears as a rash accompanied by joint pain and fever. There are many subclasses of lupus.
Is lupus contagious?
Lupus is not contagious. Lupus cannot be transferred from one person to another by touching the skin lesions or by physical contact. The specific cause of lupus is not known, but many genetic predispositions (HLA types, regulatory genes) and gene-environment interactions (UV exposure, the immune system's response to microbes and/or drugs) have been identified that predispose individuals to develop this autoimmune disease.
How will someone know if he or she has lupus?
If a person has an onset of joint pain, fever, and a rash, lupus is considered as a possible cause. If the person is pregnant or if there is a family history of lupus or any autoimmune disease, the diagnosis of SLE becomes more likely. However the American College of Rheumatology has developed criteria that can be helpful in diagnosing the systemic form of lupus (SLE). There are 11 diagnostic basic criteria. When an individual has at least four of these criterions, they are likely to have systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Briefly, the following is a list of the 11 criteria:
- Serositis (inflammation of the lining of the lungs or abdomen)
- Oral ulcers
- Arthritis (inflammation of many joints)
- Photosensitivity (rash after sun exposure)
- Blood disorders (low white, red, or platelet blood counts)
- Kidney problems (renal failure)
- Gastrointestinal problems (nausea, abdominal pain)
- Antinuclear antibodies (ANAs)
- Immunologic abnormalities (DNA antibody, cardiolipin antibody, false positive VDRL)
- Neurologic disorder (seizures or psychosis)
- Cardiac problems (pericarditis, myocarditis)
- Facial cheek reddish rash (malar rash)
- Focal areas of hyper- and hypopigmentation and scarring (discoid rash)
The diagnosis is usually made by a medical caregiver skilled in the diagnosis of lupus (such as rheumatologists or dermatologists).
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/16/2016