Lupus refers to a group of four types of inflammatory autoimmune diseases in which body's immune system attacks its own healthy tissues causing inflammation resulting in malfunction of various organ systems. Lupus affects women more commonly than men, with women accounting for nearly 90% of affected population. The frequency of lupus varies by race and ethnicity.

Types of lupus:

1. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) involves one or more internal organs.

2. Discoid lupus, only affects the skin without internal disease.

3. Drug-induced lupus, reaction to certain kinds of medicines.

4. Neonatal lupus.

It can affect any organ, but most often involved organ systems include the kidneys, blood vessels, heart, lungs, joints or skin. Many different symptoms are associated with lupus and can be very mild to life threatening like skin rash, joint pain to organ failure.

There is no one specific cause of lupus. However, environmental and genetic triggers have been proposed. There are about 400 medications that can as well cause this condition. Treatments include antimalarial drugs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, steroids, and/or immunosuppressive drugs.

Lupus erythematosus means ‘wolf red’ and it was so called in the past as the facial rash of some people with lupus looked like the bite of wolf.

Contributor: Duraiswamy Navaneetham PhD.

Temple University School of Medicine

Philadelphia, PA, USA

July 2009