What is Lupus Erythematosus?
Lupus erythematosus is a group of autoimmune diseases in which the immune system attacks healthy tissues, causing inflammation and damage in various organs. It can affect the skin, joints, kidneys, blood cells, heart, lungs, brain, and other parts of the body. There is no cure for lupus erythematosus, but treatments can help control the symptoms and prevent complications. Lupus erythematosus is more common in women than men, and it may have genetic and environmental triggers.
What are the signs and symptoms of Lupus Erythematosus?
Some of the signs and symptoms of lupus erythematosus are:
- Fatigue, fever, and joint pain
- Butterfly-shaped rash on the face or rashes elsewhere on the skin
- Skin lesions that worsen with sun exposure
- Fingers and toes that turn white or blue in cold or stress
- Shortness of breath and chest pain
- Dry eyes and headaches
- Confusion and memory loss
- Oral ulcers and arthritis
- Kidney, heart, lung, and brain problems
- Blood cell and immunological abnormalities
These symptoms may vary depending on the type and severity of lupus erythematosus, and they may come and go in episodes called flares.
What are the causes of Lupus Erythematosus?
The causes of lupus erythematosus are unknown, but they are believed to be linked to environmental, genetic, and hormonal factors. Some possible triggers that may initiate or worsen lupus erythematosus include:
- Sunlight. Exposure to the sun may cause skin lesions or trigger an internal response in some people.
- Infections. Having an infection can start lupus erythematosus or cause a relapse in some people.
- Medications. Certain drugs, such as some antibiotics, blood pressure medicines, and anti-seizure medicines, may induce a form of lupus erythematosus that usually goes away when the drug is stopped.
Lupus erythematosus is also influenced by genetic factors, as it tends to run in families and affect certain ethnic groups more than others. Hormonal factors may also play a role, as lupus erythematosus is more common in women than men, especially during childbearing years.
What treatments are available at the dermatologist for Lupus Erythematosus?
Some of the treatments that are available at the dermatologist for lupus erythematosus are:
- Corticosteroid injections. This can help clear a thick lupus patch on your skin.
- Antimalarial medication. This can help clear skin rashes due to lupus and prevent lupus flares. Antimalarial medication works slowly1.
- Sun protection. This can prevent new flare-ups and stop lupus from worsening. Sun protection includes seeking shade, wearing sun-protective clothing, using sunscreen, and planning outdoor activities for times when the sun’s rays are less intense.
- Skin biopsy. This can help diagnose the type and severity of lupus affecting the skin and determine the best treatment.
- Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) supplements. This may help reduce lupus flares, but it may also cause acne in women.
How does Lupus Erythematosus affect pregnancy
Lupus erythematosus can affect pregnancy in various ways, such as:
- Increasing the risk of complications for both the mother and the baby, such as preeclampsia, preterm birth, low birth weight, fetal loss, and neonatal lupus.
- Causing flares of lupus symptoms during or after pregnancy, especially in the first or second trimester.
- Damaging the placenta and affecting its function, which can lead to placental insufficiency, intrauterine growth restriction, and fetal distress.
- Requiring close monitoring and treatment with medications that are safe for pregnancy, such as corticosteroids, antimalarials, and immunosuppressants.
Therefore, women with lupus erythematosus who want to get pregnant should plan ahead and consult with their doctors. They should also have regular check-ups and tests to ensure a healthy pregnancy and delivery.
FAQ About Lupus Erythematosus
Are there different types of lupus erythematosus?
Yes, there are different types of lupus erythematosus, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE), drug-induced lupus erythematosus (DILE), and neonatal lupus erythematosus (NLE). They differ in their symptoms, severity, affected organs, and treatment options.
How is lupus erythematosus diagnosed?
Lupus erythematosus is diagnosed based on a combination of clinical and laboratory criteria. There is no single test that can confirm or rule out lupus erythematosus. Some tests that may be used to diagnose or monitor lupus erythematosus include blood tests (such as ANA, anti-dsDNA, anti-Sm, complement levels), urine tests (such as proteinuria), imaging tests (such as chest X-ray or echocardiogram), and tissue biopsy (such as skin or kidney biopsy).
What are the potential complications and long-term effects of lupus erythematosus?
Lupus erythematosus can cause serious complications and long-term effects that can affect the quality of life and survival of people with the disease. Some potential complications and long-term effects include kidney failure, cardiovascular disease, stroke, infection, osteoporosis, avascular necrosis, cancer, pregnancy complications, organ damage, and premature death.
Is there a dermatologist near me in Baton Rouge that offers treatment for Lupus Erythematosus?
Yes. At our Baton Rouge dermatology office we offer treatment for Lupus Erythematosus to patients from Baton Rouge and the surrounding area. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.