Skip to content

Lupus Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Frequently Asked Questions About Lupus

What is lupus?

Lupus is an autoimmune disease. The immune system's job is to fight foreign substances in the body, such as germs and viruses. But in autoimmune diseases, the immune system attacks healthy tissues, not germs.

Lupus is a disease that can affect many parts of the body. Lupus can involve the joints, the skin, the kidneys, the lungs, the heart, and/or the brain. If you have lupus, it may affect several parts of your body. Usually, one person doesn't have all the possible symptoms.

Recommended Related to Lupus

Skin Care Tips for Lupus

Skin changes are common when you have lupus, but you don't have to let them get the best of you. Medical treatment can get rid of some. You can also protect your skin and use cover-up tricks to make them less visible.

Read the Skin Care Tips for Lupus article > >

What causes lupus?

We don't know what causes lupus. There is no cure, but in most cases lupus can be managed. Lupus sometimes seems to run in families, which suggests the disease may be hereditary. Having the genes isn't the whole story, though. The environment, sunlight, stress, and certain medicines may trigger symptoms in some people. Other people who have similar genetic backgrounds may not get signs or symptoms of the disease. Researchers are trying to find out why.

Are there different typs of lupus?

The different types of lupus include:

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (eh-RITH-eh-muh-TOE-sus) is the most common form. The word "systemic" means that the disease can involve many parts of the body. SLE symptoms can be mild or serious.
  • Discoid lupus erythematosus mainly affects the skin. A red, circular rash may appear, or the skin on the face, scalp, or elsewhere may change color. Discoid lupus rashes often leave scars or light-colored patches of skin after it heals.
  • Drug-induced lupus is triggered by a certain drugs. It's like SLE, but symptoms are usually milder. Most of the time, the disease goes away when the medicine is stopped. More men develop drug-induced lupus because the drugs that cause it, hydralazine and procainamide, are used to treat heart conditions that are more common in men.

What are the signs and symptoms of lupus?

Lupus may be hard to diagnose. It's often mistaken for other diseases. For this reason, lupus has been called the "great imitator." The signs of lupus differ from person to person. Some people have just a few signs; others have more.

Today on WebMD

grocery shopping list
And the memory problems that may come with it.
Lupus rash on nails
A detailed, visual guide.
 
sunburst filtering through leaves
You might be extra sensitive to UV light. Read on.
fruit drinks
For better focus in your life.
 
Woman rubbing shoulder
Slideshow
Bag of cosmetics
Video
 
young woman hiding face
Quiz
pregnant woman
Article
 
5 Lupus Risk Factors
Article
Young adult couple
Article
 
doctor advising patient
Article
sticky notes on face
Video
 

WebMD Special Sections