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Close-up of butterfly rash on a woman with lupus.

Close-up of butterfly rash on a woman with lupus.
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Lupus

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Lupus is a disease of the body's immune system. Although its causes are not yet entirely known, treatments to treat the symptoms and complications of lupus are available.

What is lupus?

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can affect many different parts of the body. The exact cause is not known, but it is probably a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

There are many different types of lupus. Systemic lupus erythematosus (also known as SLE) can affect almost any organ or system. Discoid lupus is generally milder, with most people having only skin symptoms. Subacute cutaneous lupus is similar, but milder still. Drug-induced lupus is a reaction to a medicine that fades away after the medicine is stopped.

Lupus is fairly rare. About 90 per cent of people with lupus are women and the majority develop the condition between 15 and 45 years.

Symptoms can be vague and vary greatly from person to person. The most common symptoms include pain, stiffness or swelling in joints, skin rashes, fever and feeling tired. Diagnosing it is difficult and may take some time.

The symptoms and complications of Lupus are treatable. Most people with lupus are able to manage the disease and enjoy a good quality of life with effective treatments and the decision to follow a healthy lifestyle.

Last reviewed: November 2016

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