Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
Systemic lupus erythematosus, or lupus for short, is an autoimmune disease in which the human body's immune system begins to attack healthy tissue. Lupus can affect the skin, the joints, the kidneys, the brain, and other bodily organs. When a person has systemic lupus erythematosus, the immune system cannot differentiate between antigens and healthy tissue, and begins to direct antibodies against the healthy tissue, causing swelling, pain, and tissue damage.
The vast majority of patients with lupus, some 70 percent, have symptoms on the skin. One common skin symptom is the butterfly rash that appears on a person's face. There is no specific cause of systemic lupus erythematosus, but it is believed to be caused by some combination of genetics and environmental triggers.
Systemic lupus erythematosus cannot be prevented, but its consequences can be, with treatment involving the preventing of flare-ups plus reducing their severity and duration when they do occur. Many treatment options include the use of corticosteroids. Anti-malarial drugs have also proven effective in the treatment of lupus.
Additionally, individuals with systemic lupus erythematosus are advised to make lifestyle changes. Avoiding sunlight is the most primary change, as sunlight exacerbates the symptoms of lupus. Ultimately, lupus is incurable, but it is treatable.