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Lupus Rash – Pictures, Life Expectancy, Contagious, Symptoms, Treatment

Updated on August 18, 2014

Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disorder characterized by abnormal attack of the many healthy tissues and organs by the body’s own immune system. Some people may be genetically prone to this condition and the disease may get triggered via infections, use of certain medicines, or even after being exposed to sunlight. However, this does not identify/categorize Lupus as an inherited disease.

Lupus treatment involves management, control, and alleviation of the symptoms. Inflammation associated with lupus may affect numerous systems like the joints, skin, blood cells, brain, kidneys, lungs, and the heart.

As the symptoms of lupus imitate those elicited by other conditions, its diagnosis can often be problematic. The most identifiable symptom of lupus is the occurrence of a butterfly rash on face, i.e., a single rash that covers both the cheeks and the bridge of the nose and which appears like a butterfly’s wings. However, the rash may be seen only in some patients and not all.

Symptoms of lupus

Different patients may suffer from different symptoms of lupus. The signs and symptoms may appear suddenly or over a period of time, they may be temporary or chronic; and they may be mild or extreme.

Most patients have minor anomalies comprising of episodes called flares, wherein the symptoms deteriorate and then get better after some time, or may even disappear completely.

As per the body system that gets affected, lupus may cause the following signs and symptoms:

  • Development of a unique butterfly rash on face which covers both the cheeks and the nasal bridge and looks like the wings of a butterfly.
  • Presence of lesions on skin which worsen after contact with sunlight.
  • Joint pain, stiffness, inflammation, and swelling.
  • Fever
  • Exhaustion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest area pain
  • Presence of Raynaud’s phenomenon, a condition characterized by discoloration of the body’s extremities like the fingers and toes, to blue or white, after exposure to cold climates or in times of excess stress.
  • Dry eyes
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Headache
  • Memory problems

The below listed vital organs may experience inflammation and other abnormalities due to an underlying case of lupus:

  • Inflammation of cardiac muscle or membrane and arteries. Cardiovascular defects and heart attacks are common amongst lupus patients.
  • One of the primary causes of deaths in lupus patients is kidney failure. Severe kidney damage may cause symptoms like widespread itching, edema, nausea, vomiting, and chest pain.
  • Lupus induced brain defects can result in headache, dizziness, behavioral changes, hallucination, strokes, and seizures. Many patients may also have memory deficits and improper thought articulation.
  • Blood abnormalities that pose increasing risk to bleeding, clotting, and anemia. Inflammation of blood vessels can cause vasculitis.
  • Increased risk to cancer, infections, etc. due to the weakened immune system, which further gets impaired because of treatment with immunosuppressants.
  • Inflammation of the chest cavity lining can cause painful breathing

Causes of lupus

Lupus is caused due to the immune system’s mistaken attack of the healthy body tissues and organs. Studies show that lupus is usually caused due to hereditary and environmental factors. It is believed that people with a genetic predisposition to lupus may develop the disease after exposure to certain triggers in the environment. The exact causes are however not known in most instances.

A few common triggers of lupus are listed below:

  • Intake of blood pressure drugs, anti-seizure medications, or antibiotics. People with drug-related lupus will experience reduction of the abnormal symptoms after discontinuing the specific medication.
  • Exposure to sun rays can also trigger skin lesions or other adverse reactions associated with lupus

Other risk factors include:

  • Women are more vulnerable to lupus than men.
  • Lupus can affect people of all ages. It is however prevalent in the age group of 15 to 40 years.
  • Asians, African Americans,and Hispanics are at greater risk.

Treatment of Lupus

Different patients experience different symptoms of lupus. Hence, treatment is dependent on the underlying symptoms. The range of medical and drug treatment is only decided after a through diagnosis.

Lupus treatment may include:

  • Management of symptoms with anti-malarial drugs
  • Reduction of swelling, pain, and fever with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Alleviation of inflammation with corticosteroids
  • Doctors may prescribe immunosuppressant drugs for extreme cases of lupus.

Bouts of ‘flares’ can be prevented by following the below listed precautionary measures:

  • Take sufficient rest
  • Quit smoking
  • Use sunscreen and other sun protection options when outdoors.
  • Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly to boost the immune system and prevent the risk of a relapse.

Lupus patients and life expectancy

Most lupus patients tend to have a normal or a next-to-normal life span. Their life-expectancy however depends on varied factors, including the severity of the condition; whether vital organs like kidneys are affected or not; and the severity of anomalies that affect the main organs.

Currently around 90 percent of lupus patients may live for at least 5 years post diagnosis, while an estimated 70 percent tend to live for over 20 years after a diagnosis of lupus.

Lupus Rash Pictures


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