The Types of Lupus

May is Lupus Awareness Month.  To kick it off I thought a discussion on the types of Lupus was appropriate. The Lupus Foundation of America estimates that 1.5 million Americans and at least 5 million people worldwide have a form of Lupus.  90% of those affected are women. It can affect men though and one form largely affects men more so than women. Without further ado here are the Types of Lupus affecting millions of people:

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

SLE is the most common form of Lupus and it is what most people mean with they tell you they have lupus. Systemic lupus can be on the spectrum from mild to severe. It can involve any organ and the symptoms present can vary from each person that it affects. There are 11 criteria used to diagnose SLE I will do a separate post on this tomorrow. The most common organs affected are the heart, kidneys, brain, and lungs. A lot of people who have this form of Lupus experience a rash called the butterfly (malar) rash which is a red rash across the cheeks and bridge of the nose. It can vary in severity. It is not present in all SLE patients. A lot of people with SLE also experience other skin rashes and sun-triggered rashes and discoid rashes. People with this form of Lupus also experience joint, muscle pain and fatigue and will often complain of feeling like they have the flu from day-to-day.

This is the form of Lupus that I have. I was diagnosed in March, but it appeared in print for the first time in my medical record on 4/1/2013. I’ll discuss more of my personal story tomorrow when I talk about the diagnostic criteria that is used, and I will talk about my own personal story that led to my diagnosis.

Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus

CLE is limited to skin involvement. It causes many types of rashes and skin lesions or sores. The most common is called a discoid rash, a raised scaly red rash that is not itchy. It appears as discs or circles on the skin. The butterfly rash is also common in CLE. Other rashes may appear on the face, neck or scalp. A lot of the rashes can be worsened to exposure to sunlight or even fluorescent light. It can cause sores in the mouth, nose and vagina. Hair loss and changes in color, skin pigmentation are common in CLE.  Approximately 10 percent of people who have cutaneous lupus will develop systemic lupus later on. However, it is likely that these people already had systemic lupus, with the skin rash as their main symptom.

Drug-induced Lupus Erythematosus

Drug-induced lupus is a lupus-like disease caused by certain prescription drugs. The symptoms of drug-induced lupus are similar to those of systemic lupus, but it rarely affects major organs. This form is more common in men because they are more likely to take the medications that trigger the Lupus-like symptoms. The Symptoms usually disappear within six months after the medications are stopped.

The drugs most commonly connected with drug-induced lupus include:

  • Hydralazine—Treatment for high blood pressure or hypertension
  • Procainamide—Treatment for irregular heart rhythms
  • Isoniazid—Treatment for tuberculosis

Neonatal Lupus

Neonatal Lupus is not a true form of Lupus. It is a rare condition that affects the infants of women who have Lupus. It is caused by antibodies from the mother acting upon the infant in the womb. At birth the infant may have a skin rash, liver problems, low blood cell counts, but these symptoms disappear completely after several months with no lasting effects. However, some infants with NL can also have serious heart defects. With proper testing doctors can identify at-risk mothers and infants can be treated at or before birth.

Every person with Lupus has a story, it is a journey and it affects each person differently. If you or someone you know has Lupus I encourage you to take part in Lupus Awareness month to help raise awareness. There are several ways you can do this. Please visit Lupus Awareness Ideas for ways you can help raise awareness!


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