Systemic lupus erythematosus, also known as disseminated lupus erythematosus, SLE or just as lupus is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disorder characterized by acute and chronic inflammation of various tissues that, in general terms, affects the skin, joints and kidneys as well as other organs.
SLE (via


Lupus affects as many women as men. Research has been unable to clearly identify whether or not it is passed on genetically due to the inability to determine the exact gene or genes involved. However, it has been shown that patients that have relatives with SLE are generally more likely to get SLE than those that do not have relatives with SLE.
  • Non-Genetic factors

  • Viruses
  • Medications
  • Ultraviolet light


  • More common in African Americans and persons of Asian decent
  • 9 out of 10 lupus patients are women
  • African American women are 3 times more likely to get SLE than Caucasian women


SLE affects many areas in the body, but when localized to certain places it may develop a different name. If only developed on the skin and not internally it is known as discoid lupus. The reason that lupus can effect any place in the body is because it effects the tissues of the body which can lead to any complications including areas such as the skin, heart, kidney, liver, body joints or the nervous system.


Butterfly Skin Rash (via
SLE like almost all autoimmune diseases effects the immune system. Persons with SLE produced specific antibodies in their blood that target the tissues of their own body instead of foreign pathogens or infections.
  • Symptoms

  • Skin rash - affects almost half of SLE patients (Pictured)
  • Arthritis - most common
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen glands - lymph glands
  • malaise - or a general feeling of illness
  • Joint pain and swelling
  • Sensitivity to sunlight
  • Fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pleural effusions
  • Pleurisy - chest pains
  • Psychosis
    Common Areas of Skin Rash (via
  • Seizures
    • Flares

      Flares are a temporary worsening of symptoms. Even with medication flare ups may occur. One week you will have a rash and the next you will not. Flare are generally caused by a few activities such as:
    • - Lack of Sleep
    • - Overworking
    • - Exposure to Ultraviolet Light
    • - Infections
    • - Physical Trauma
    • - Medications or stopping medications


    Diagnoses of SLE is not fool proof due to the myriad of symptoms and complications that can result, however 11 criteria have been generally accepted to diagnose the disorder:
  • Malar or "butterfly" rash (pictured above)
  • Patchy skin rashes
    Depigmentation of Skin (via
  • Photosensitivity to UV light
  • Mucous membrane ulcers in the nose, ears, mouth and/or throat
  • Arthritis* Pericarditis or swelling and pain around the heart
  • Kidney abnormalities
  • Brain irritations (psychosis or seizures)
  • Blood count abnormalities
  • Immunological disorder
  • Antinuclear antibody


Lupus can occur at any age, however it is most commonly found in persons between 25 and 40 years of age.
  • Treatment

    Unfortunately there are no cures for SLE. The only treatments that are available try to reduce swelling and protect the organs. Medications used for treatment include:
  • NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs)
  • Corticosteroids (To reduce inflammation)
  • Immunosuppressive medications


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Discussion Question

Do you feel that systemic lupus eyrthematosus would be an easily diagnosed disease if you were a doctor?
Subject Author Replies Views Last Message
Discussion Question RyanK9 RyanK9 6 112 May 17, 2009 by MattBrht MattBrht