Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus) - Treatment Overview
Your treatment choices for lupus depend on how severe your symptoms are, whether your organs are affected, and how much your symptoms are affecting your daily life. Your treatment plans should be tailored to your individual needs and will change over time, as the disease flares or ebbs. There currently is no cure for lupus.
Treatment for mild lupus
The goal of treatment for mild
lupus is to prevent symptom flares—when fatigue, joint
pain, and rash get worse.
- Get regular checkups with your
doctor, instead of waiting until your disease flares. When flares
do occur, the goal is to treat them right away to limit any damage to body
- Avoid the sun. If you must be in the sun,
cover your arms and legs, wear a hat, and apply broad-spectrum sunscreen
UVA and UVB rays) with a high sun protection factor (such as
SPF 50) to protect your skin.
corticosteroid cream for rashes.
- Take acetaminophen or nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and get plenty of rest for
mild joint or muscle pain and fever.
antimalarial medicines, especially for skin rashes. They also help with fatigue and joint and muscle pain.
- Take low-dose
corticosteroids if NSAIDs aren't effective in
controlling your symptoms.
Treatment for more severe lupus
If your lupus is causing or threatening organ damage, is life-threatening, or is seriously impacting your quality of life, you may also need to take:
- Corticosteroids in higher doses, either in pills or through a vein in your arm (IV).
- Medicine that suppresses your immune system (immunosuppressants).
To learn more, see Medications.
If you develop serious kidney disease that cannot be controlled with medicine, you may need dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Good self-care is essential to managing lupus. A healthy lifestyle may reduce how often you have flares and how severe they are. It can improve your quality of life. Good self-care also helps decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Self-care includes getting regular exercise and eating a healthy diet. To learn more, see Home Treatment.