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Lupus

Lupus erythematosus, or simply called "lupus", is an autoimmune disease that can cause inflammation and damage to various parts of the body, including skin, joints, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and brain. The term lupus means "wolf" and erythematosus means "redness". In 1851, doctors coined this name for the disease because they thought the facial rash that frequently accompanies lupus looked like the bite of a wolf.

There are several types of lupus:

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus is the most common form. It’s sometimes called SLE, or just lupus. The word systemic means that the disease can involve many parts of the body such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, and brain.

  • Discoid lupus erythematosus is a chronic skin disorder in which a red, raised rash appears on the face, scalp, or elsewhere. The raised areas may become thick and scaly and may cause scarring. The rash may last for days or years and may recur. A small percentage of people with discoid lupus have or develop SLE later.

  • Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus refers to skin lesions that appear on parts of the body exposed to sun. The lesions do not cause scarring.

  • Drug-induced lupus is triggered by a few medicines. 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.

  • Neonatal lupus is a rare disease that can occur in newborn babies of women with SLE, Sjögren’s syndrome, or no disease at all. Scientists suspect that neonatal lupus is caused by autoantibodies in the mother’s blood called anti-Ro (SSA) and anti-La (SSB). Autoantibodies ('auto' means self) are blood proteins that act against the body's own parts. At birth, the babies have a skin rash, liver problems, and low blood counts. These symptoms gradually go away over several months. In rare instances, babies with neonatal lupus may have a serious heart problem that slows down the natural rhythm of the heart.

 

Reference:

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, USA.