Good self-care is essential to
lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, or SLE). Learn to
recognize your body's warning signs of a flare. Warning signs may include
increased fatigue, joint pain, rash, or fever. When you notice any of these
signs, take steps to control your symptoms.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease, which means that the immune system mistakes the body's own tissues as foreign invaders and attacks them. Some people with lupus suffer only minor inconvenience. Others suffer significant lifelong disability.
Lupus affects people of African, Asian, or Native American descent three times as often as it affects whites. Nine out of 10 people with lupus are women. The disease usually strikes between age 15 and 45, although it can occur in older individuals.
Fatigue is common in people with
lupus. To fight
Get plenty of rest. Some people with lupus need
up to 12 hours of sleep every night.
Pace yourself. Limit tiring
Ask others for help. Don't try to do everything
Take short breaks from your usual daily activities.
Consider cutting down on work hours or getting help with parenting
responsibilities, at least during periods when lupus symptoms are
Exercise regularly. Physical activity boosts energy and
helps you stay in good condition. Walking and swimming are good forms of
exercise for people with lupus.
If you suspect that
depression is contributing to your fatigue, get prompt
treatment from your doctor, a mental health professional, or both.
Take care of your skin. Ask your
doctor about the use of
corticosteroid creams to relieve skin symptoms that
are particularly troublesome. If you are bothered by the way a lupus rash looks
on your face or if you have scars from lupus, you can try makeup, such as
Covermark, to cover the rash or scars.
Ultraviolet (UVA and UVB) light triggers disease
flares in most people with lupus. Exposure to
ultraviolet light, as from sunlight, can trigger or start skin rash, joint
pain, or fatigue, or it can make these symptoms worse. To minimize your
exposure to ultraviolet light:
Avoid the sun. If you must be in the sun, cover
your arms and legs, wear a hat, and apply broad-spectrum sunscreen (covering
both UVA and UVB rays) with a high sun protection factor
SPF or higher) to protect your skin. Reapply sunscreen
after swimming, sweating, or toweling off. Experiment with sunscreens. Some may
irritate your skin or wash off too easily.
Avoid going out when the
sun's rays are the strongest. In most areas, this is between the hours of 10
a.m. and 4 p.m., especially during the summer.
Good general care is essential. A
healthy lifestyle not only improves your quality of life but may also reduce
your chances of having more frequent and severe flares. Taking good general care of yourself also helps decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke. Good care
Getting vaccinations to help protect you from
illnesses such as pneumonia and the flu.