Is Lupus A Skin Disease?
No, lupus is not a skin disease and it is not caused by a virus.
- In fact, lupus is an autoimmune disease. This means that your immune system gets confused and starts attacking the body's own cells instead of just foreign invaders like bacteria or viruses.
- Lupus can affect many different parts of the body. Often the skin is affected, which leads to the misconception that lupus is a skin disease. Other parts of the body that are commonly infected include the joints, lungs, heart, kidneys, and blood cells.
There are four different types of lupus:
- Systemic lupus erythematosus: this is the most common and severe type of lupus. It can affect almost all parts of the body, usually the joints, blood, kidneys, lungs, and skin.
- Discoid lupus erythematosus or cutaneous lupus: this type of lupus affects only the skin. This results in a rash on the face and scalp. Sometimes people with this type of lupus develop systemic lupus erythematosus, but not always.
- Drug-induced lupus erythematosus: this type of lupus can be caused by certain drugs, like antipsychotic drugs, certain hypertension and heart medicines, and one type of tuberculosis drug. Usually the lupus symptoms disappear when you stop taking the drugs.
- Neonatal lupus: this is lupus that occurs in newborns shortly after birth. It causes a rash that usually clears up within six months of birth.
Symptoms of Lupus
- Butterfly-shaped skin rash on the face, on both cheeks, spanning the nose.
- Unexplained changes in weight
- Skin or mouth lesions
- Sun sensitivity
- Raynaud's phenomenon, where the extremities turn blue or white when exposed to cold temperatures or stress
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Skin is easily bruised
- Anxiety or depression
- Memory impairment
- Dry eyes
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are often used to treat lupus. Aspirin, ibuprofen, and Aleve are all used in lupus patients. Many of these are available over the counter, or stronger versions are available with prescriptions. However, long term use can result in stomach bleeding and heart problems. Additionally, some of these drugs may cause severe side effects in people with lupus, so you should talk to your health practitioner before taking any of these medications.
- Antimalarials are often used to treat lupus patients, although it is not known why this helps.
- Corticosteroids also have shown benefits for lupus sufferers, but there are serious long term side effects like osteoporosis, high blood pressure, diabetes, risk of infection, and weight gain.
- Fish oil and flax seed oil are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. You might want to try taking these to improve your health.