Lupus erythematosus

An autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation of connective tissue. The most common type, discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE), only affects exposed areas of the skin. The more serious form, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), affects many body systems, including the skin. In both varieties of lupus erythematosus, the symptoms periodically subside and recur with varying severity. In DLE, the rash starts as one or more red, circular, thickened areas of skin that later scar. These patches may occur on the face, behind the ears, and on the scalp. Treatment is usually with topical corticosteroid drugs. SLE causes a variety of symptoms. A characteristic red, blotchy, butterfly-shaped rash may appear over the cheeks and the bridge of the nose; other symptoms include fatigue, fever, loss of appetite, nausea, joint pain, and weight loss. There may also be anaemia, neurological or psychiatric problems, kidney failure, pleurisy, arthritis, and pericarditis. Diagnosis is made by blood tests and sometimes a skin biopsy. Sufferers of mild forms of SLE may have near normal health for many years; treatment with corticosteroid drugs and immunosuppressant drugs can improve life expectancy. Other treatments are available to treat specific features of the disease. However, SLE is still a potentially fatal disorder.


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