There is currently no single test that can definitely say whether
a person has lupus or not.
There are three different types of lupus - Discoid(cutaneous)
lupus, Systemic lupus & Drug-induced lupus.
In approximately 10% of cases of discoid lupus, it evolves
& develops into systemic lupus.
There are various factors thought to trigger the onset of lupus,
or cause lupus to flare, these include - UV light, certain prescription
drugs, infection, certain antibiotics, hormones, & possibly
Approximately 95% of lupus patients have a positive ANA test.
90% of lupus sufferers are female.
Only about 30% of lupus sufferers actually have the classical
'butterfly' rash that is associated with lupus.
Approximately 10% of lupus patients actually have drug-induced
lupus. Drug-induced lupus is usually less severe than SLE &
will disappear after the patient stops taking the particular drug.
Drugs that have definite proof of an association with drug-induced
lupus include - Procainamide (Procan or Pronestyl), Hydralazine
(Apresoline or Apresazide), Isoniazid (INH), Quinidine, &
The widely used acne drug Minocycline, has been shown to cause
drug induced lupus symptoms.
Drugs known to exacerbate lupus or increase the risk of allergic
reactions in people with lupus, include some antibiotics (sulfa,
The term 'lupus' was derived from the Latin word for wolf in
an effort to describe one of the disease's most recognisable features,
the rash on the cheeks that suggests a wolf-like appearance.
The technical name for the disease we know of as lupus was
first applied to a skin disorder by a Frenchman, Pierre Cazenave,
in 1851, though descriptive articles detailing the condition date
back to Hippocrates in ancient Greece.
Between 1895 & 1903, the great physician William Osler
clearly identified that internal organs may be involved &
that lupus could take on a 'systemic' form.
In 1948, a pathologist named Malcolm Hargreaves discovered
the LE cell (Lupus Erythematosus cell), which was the first blood
test used to help diagnose lupus. He found that 70-80% of patients
with active SLE possessed these cells.
During the 1950s, the LE cell was shown to be part of an antinuclear
antibody (or ANA) reaction. This led to the development of other
tests for autoantibodies.
80% of lupus patients develop the disease between the ages
of 15 & 45.
The treatment of lupus aims to suppress the overactive immune
system & diminish any inflammation.
The most commonly used treatments for lupus are NSAIDs (Non-steroidal
Anti-Inflammatory Drugs), Anti-Malarials (known as disease modifying
agents), & steroids. These drugs can be used on their own
or in combination.
Occasionally immuno-suppressive drugs need to be used, these
include Cytoxan, Azathioprine & Methotrexate.
The most common sites for skin rashes in lupus patients are
the palms, elbows & face. Often the rashes are subtle, eg.
a faint pinkiness may appear around the cheeks & tips of the
fingers or on the soles of the feet.
Many lupus patients are very sun sensitive, & therefore
need to cover up well when in the sun.
Some lupus patients report of being affected by UV light, eg.
from flourescent lights.
There is no way of telling how long a flare will last. After
the initial flare, some lupus patients go into remission &
never have another flare, but some patients can be in a flare
Lupus patients are more likely to contract infections such
as salmonella, herpes zoster & candida(yeast). Infections
in lupus patients tend to last longer & require a longer course
of treatment with antibiotics than infections in people who do
not have lupus.
Fatigue, malaise, sleep disturbances, myalgias, cognitive impairment
& gastrointestinal symptoms are frequent in patients with
lupus, & yet may occur in the absence of an obvious disease
flare or abnormal blood tests.
Fatigue, headache & cognitive dysfunction (memory, attention,
concentration) are symptoms associated with central nervous system