Lupus or lupus erythematosus is an autoimmune disease, which can affect any part of the body including the skin, joints, kidneys, heart, lungs, and even the blood cells. This disease is characterized by the inflammation of the affected part of the body.
There are basically four major types of lupus - systemic lupus erythematosus, discoid lupus erythematosus, drug-induced lupus erythematosus, and neonatal lupus erythematosus. Another type is subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus, which is similar to discoid lupus. Out of these, systemic lupus erythematosus is more widespread. It is also the most severe form of the disease.
Four Major Kinds of Lupus Disease
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
In systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), the entire body is affected. However, it has been observed that the skin, joints, kidneys, and the blood cells are more commonly affected by this disease. The symptoms of the disease can appear abruptly, or develop gradually over a period of time. The most common symptoms or discomforts presented by this condition are, joint pain and swelling, joint stiffness, fever, malaise, fatigue, skin rash, and muscle pain. Skin lesions and rashes can develop in various parts of the body. The characteristic lupus 'butterfly rash' can be more commonly found across the cheek and on the bridge of the nose.
Discoid Lupus Erythematosus
Discoid lupus erythematosus is characterized by the appearance of skin rashes, and red and scaly patches. The condition affects only the skin. The rashes and the red, raised skin patches or lesions can eventually cause scarring and loss of hair on the affected area. The face, neck, ears, and the scalp are the areas that are more frequently affected by the discoid rash. Subacute cutaneous lupus is another type of lupus that is quite similar to the discoid lupus. In this condition, the development of skin rashes is triggered by the exposure to sunlight. Subacute cutaneous lupus usually does not cause scarring.
Drug-induced Lupus Erythematosus
As the name suggests, drug-induced lupus is caused by certain types of drugs. The prolonged use of certain medications can sometimes produce symptoms similar to the systemic lupus erythematosus. Medications that are more commonly found to be associated with this condition are, antibiotics, hypertension medications, such as hydralazine, birth control pills, thyroid medications, procainamide, isoniazid, chlorpromazine, quinidine, sulfasalazine, and penicillamine. The symptoms of drug-induced lupus usually resolve within a few weeks after discontinuing the specific medication.
Neonatal Lupus Erythematosus
Neonatal lupus affects the newborn babies, which however, is quite rare. This condition is believed to be caused when antibodies associated with systemic lupus erythematosus pass from the mother to the fetus. This disease causes the appearance of a skin rash within a few weeks after birth. Neonatal lupus however, resolves within a few months. But in rare cases, it can lead to certain complications like liver and heart problems.
Lupus, especially systemic lupus and discoid lupus are chronic conditions. Factors like, the exposure to sunlight, recurrent infections with the Epstein-Barr virus, an exposure to certain chemicals, and the long-term use of certain drugs are the risk factors for lupus disease. Lupus can lead to several complications, such as kidney failure, and the inflammation of the lungs and the blood vessels. To avoid such complications, it is important to evaluate the condition as early as possible with the help of a physician.