Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by the body's production of antibodies against its own tissues. Those antibodies bind to a protein called complement and deposit in various tissues leading to systemic inflammation. 

Lupus typically affects young women and is more common in certain ethnic groups such as African Americans, Asians and Hispanics.

Symptoms of lupus include skin rashes, photosensitivity, mouth ulcers, joint swelling, fluid around the heart and lungs, kidney inflammation, seizures or psychosis and blood cell count abnormalities. 

The laboratory marker of lupus is ANA (anti-nuclear antibodies). The test is not specific for lupus though and can be positive in other autoimmune conditions . 

There are other antibodies that are more specific for lupus (ds DNA, Smith ).

Treatment of lupus involves use of immunosuppressive medications - glucocorticoids, Hydroxychloroquine azathioprine, mycophenolate, cyclophosphamide, Benlysta and other . 

Treatment is chosen on the basis of disease severity and organ involvement . 

Fast Facts

  • Lupus can have different presenting features.
  • Diagnosis is based on symptoms, signs of disease and certain blood tests. 
  • Avoidance of sun exposure, skin trauma (tattoos and piercings), smoking, and certain medications may improve lupus skin disease.