Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Skin rashes are a common symptom of lupus.

Skin rashes are a common symptom of lupus.
beginning of content

Lupus symptoms

1-minute read

Different people have different symptoms, and one person may have different symptoms at different times. Symptoms can be vague.

Lupus can be very unpredictable. Some people have relatively few symptoms after the initial flare up, while others have periods of fairly good health (known as remission) alternating with flare-ups of disease.

The most common symptoms include:

  • pain, stiffness or swelling in joints (experienced by about 50 per cent of people with lupus)
  • skin rashes which can appear or become worse after exposure to the sun (experienced by about 20 per cent of people with lupus). A 'butterfly rash' on the cheeks and nose is common
  • fever
  • feeling tired and weak (experienced by about 10 per cent of people with lupus)

Other fairly common symptoms are:

  • loss of appetite and loss of weight
  • hair loss
  • muscle aches
  • feeling generally unwell
  • ulcers in the mouth
  • inflammation of the lining of the lungs (the pleura) or the sac around the heart (the pericardium), making you feel short of breath or giving you pain in the chest
  • kidney problems
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon, in which fingers and toes turn blue or white in the cold
  • depression
  • seizures
  • problems with eyesight
  • swollen glands
  • problems with tendons, causing your fingers to pull in abnormal positions
  • anaemia

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: August 2018

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Learn about lupus, symptoms & treatment - MSK

Do you have lupus? Find out more about your musculoskeletal condition, how you can manage, where to find support & how MSK can help you.

Read more on Musculoskeletal Australia website


Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) or simply “lupus” is a condition that can cause inflammation in many parts of the body.

Read more on Autoimmune Resource and Research Centre website

About lupus | Garvan Institute of Medical Research

Read about the risks, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of lupus and Garvan's research for better management and outcomes.

Read more on Garvan Institute of Medical Research website

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) - Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA)

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) symptoms can be vague and vary from person to person, and consequently diagnosis can be difficult. However, once diagnosed, a combination of prescribed treatment and lifestyle adjustments enables most people with lupus to enjoy an almost normal life.

Read more on ASCIA – Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy website

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) -

Systemic lupus erythematosus, (SLE or simply lupus) is an auto-immune disease that causes pain and inflammation in the skin, joints and other parts of the body.

Read more on myDr website

Cutaneous lupus erythematosus - ACD

Cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE) is a form of lupus that predominantly affects the skin. The most common forms are subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus (SCLE) and discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE)

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

Lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus) Arthritis Australia

Systemic lupus erythematosus (also called SLE or lupus) is an autoimmune condition

Read more on Arthritis Australia website

Lupus real lives | Garvan Institute of Medical Research

Real life stories of people living with lupus (SLE). How they were diagnosed, how they live with disease, and how research has an impact.

Read more on Garvan Institute of Medical Research website

Neonatal lupus erythematosus - ACD

Neonatal lupus is an autoimmune disease. It occurs when an antibody is transferred from the mother to the baby.

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

Anti-dsDNA - Lab Tests Online AU

The anti-dsDNA test is used in support of a diagnosis ofsystemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)and distinguishes it from otherautoimmune disorders

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo