Systemic Lupus Erythematosusis an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation and can lead to end-organ damage. It can affect multiple organs, such as the kidneys, brain, heart, lungs, joints, skin and the blood cells. Lupus can also occur only in the skin, as in discoid lupus, or even in the fat, known as lupus panniculitis. It is important to distinguish between the different types as treatment and follow up may vary.
Symptoms of lupus are often nonspecific, such as fatigue or joint pain. Cutaneous signs can be more classic and aid in the diagnosis, such as the “butterfly rash” over the cheeks and bridge of nose. Cutaneous lupus can mimic common conditions such as eczema or psoriasis.
Common symptoms of Lupus include:
- Joint pain or stiffness
- Facial rash or sun-exposed rash
- Chest Pain & Shortness of Breath
- Dry Eyes
- Headaches, Memory Loss & Confusion
- Oral sores
- Hair Loss
- Sensitivity to the sun
The cause of Lupus is unknown. It is thought to have a genetic predisposition and may be triggered by environmental factors or hormones. Sun exposure can increase the cutaneous rashes of lupus, as can stress, infections, and even some medications. It is more common in certain populations, including women, ages 15-45, and African-American, Asian, and Hispanic populations.
Treatments for Lupus aredesigned to decrease inflammation, however there is no official cure for Lupus. The most important part of treatment is understanding the extent of the lupus and its triggers so they can be avoided. Rheumatologists manage systemic lupus, however cutaneous lupus without internal involvement can be managed by dermatologists. Many times, both are involved in the treatment plan.
Some of the more common symptom management options include:
- Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
- Quitting Smoking
- Diet & Exercise
- Sun Protection
For more information on lupus treatment options or to schedule a consultation, contact Nova Dermatology today.