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Types of Lupus

The Different Types of Lupus

There are four types of lupus.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is typically the most common form of lupus and is generally considered more serious than the other three forms. SLE can affect many parts of a person’s body, including kidneys, heart, lungs, brain, blood and skin. Symptoms tend to vary among patients and can change often and suddenly. Although not limited to the SLE type, lupus can follow an unpredictable pattern of remissions (symptoms disappear) and flares (active symptoms).

Discoid (Cutaneous)

Discoid is a form of lupus that only affects the skin and causes rashes. These rashes may be anywhere but are usually found on the face, neck and scalp. This type of lupus does not affect any of the internal body organs although 1 in 10 people living with discoid lupus will develop systemic lupus. Sometimes people living with lupus get a malar rash, which is often referred to as a butterfly rash. This rash commonly extends from one cheek over the nose to the other cheek. The rash was named lupus because early physicians believed the rash looked a lot like the bite of a wolf (lupus is the Latin word for wolf).

Drug-induced Lupus (DIL)

Drug-induced Lupus (DIL) occurs after a person takes certain types of medication. The symptoms are similar to systemic lupus, but they usually disappear when the medicine is stopped. Symptoms are typically gone within six months, however the Antinuclear Antibody (ANA) test (used to help diagnose lupus) may stay positive for years. About 20 percent of the general population will have a positive ANA test.

Neonatal Lupus

In rare cases, the newborn of a mom with lupus may have neonatal lupus. This condition can cause skin rashes, anemia or liver problems. Symptoms usually go away after a few months and don’t cause permanent damage. Some babies with neonatal lupus can be born with a serious heart defect.

Lupus Flare

What Is A Lupus Flare?

The times when your symptoms worsen and you feel ill are called flares, and they come and go. You may have swelling and rashes one week and no symptoms the next. Sometimes flares occur without clear symptoms and are only seen with laboratory tests. Even if you take medicine for lupus, you may find that some things trigger a flare.Some flares happen without symptoms. This is why it is important to see a trained lupus doctor who regularly monitors your health.


For instance, your symptoms may flare after you've been out in the sun or after a hard day at work. Common triggers include:


  • Overwork and not enough rest

  • Stress

  • Being out in the sun or close exposure to fluorescent or halogen light

  • Infection

  • Injury

  • Stopping your lupus medicines

  • Certain medications

  • ongoing fever not due to an infection

  • painful, swollen joints

  • an increase in fatigue

  • rashes

  • sores or ulcers in the mouth or nose

  • general swelling in the legs


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