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Types of Lupus

By Greenfield, Paige
Content provided by: Better Medicine from Healthgrades

Unfortunately, diagnosing lupus can be a challenging process. There’s no single test to determine if you have the disease. That’s why it’s so important to be open with your doctor about your symptoms and any health concerns. This information will help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis.

One part of the puzzle is determining what kind of lupus you have. Understanding the type and the symptoms it causes is crucial for designing a treatment plan that will help you feel better.

What are the different types and how might they affect your body? Read on to learn more.

Lupus that Affects Organs and Tissues

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
This is by far the most common form of lupus. People with systemic lupus may experience symptoms ranging from mild to severe. “Systemic” means that the disease can impact many different parts of your body. It can cause problems such as:

  • Inflammation of the kidneys, which can cause permanent kidney damage

  • Inflammation of the nervous system and brain, which can lead to memory problems, headaches, and stroke

  • Coronary artery disease and heart attack

Drug-induced Lupus Erythematosus
Certain prescription medications can cause symptoms similar to those of systemic lupus. However, the symptoms of drug-induced lupus aren’t usually as serious. Symptoms also typically disappear within six months of stopping these medications. A few drugs that can cause lupus-like symptoms are:

  • Hydralazine for high blood pressure

  • Procainamide for irregular heart rhythms

  • Isoniazid for tuberculosis

Lupus that Affects the Skin

Discoid Lupus Erythematosus
With this chronic skin disorder, you may develop round, disc-shaped rashes on your face, scalp, or other parts of your body. The rashes are often red and raised, and they may be thick and scaly. They aren’t painful or itchy, and they may last only a few days. But it’s possible for them to stick around for years and cause scarring. Some people with discoid lupus also have systemic lupus or could develop it later.

Subacute Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus
This form of lupus causes sores on the skin after you spend time in the sun. The lesions may be ring-shaped or appear as red, scaly areas. Usually, they don’t cause itching or scarring. But they can become worse when not protected against ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun or fluorescent lighting indoors.

Lupus that Affects Babies

Neonatal Lupus
Lupus mostly strikes women of childbearing age. While most women with lupus who become pregnant give birth to healthy infants, some children are born with neonatal lupus. The condition can cause symptoms such as skin rash, liver problems, or low blood cell counts. But neonatal lupus and its symptoms often go away within several months. Neonatal lupus is also linked to a rare but treatable heart condition.

Medical Reviewer: L Marcellin, MD, MPH Last Annual Review Date: 2013-02-07 Copyright: © 2000-2013 Krames StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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Celebrity musician Seal has facial scars as a result of a childhood battle with discoid lupus.