The first signs of lupus may look as a simple rash, but you should take this disease seriously. As we marked the World Lupus Day, let’s review all about the disease.
May 10 is World Lupus Day, which has been commemorated since 2004. This disease known as the pathology of butterfly wings is one of the most frequent autoimmune diseases.
Through an initiative of the World Lupus Federation, since May 10, 2004, international activities have been carried out for World Lupus Day. This organization has a strong presence and is a benchmark in this area.
The goal of World Lupus Day is to reach out to governments and financially-funded groups with concern to support research on the disease. Let us remember that until now, pathology is studied and treated, but it does not have a cure.
The most common form of presentation is systemic lupus erythematosus, and it is much more common among women than men. Estimations are that 90% of the patients are female. And among them, African-Americans are a majority group.
The causes of lupus are not fully elucidated, although it is known to be an autoimmune disease. Symptom triggers have been identified, such as sunlight, some infections, and drugs.
The classic sign of the butterfly wings rash on the face is related to sun exposure. Patients must be very careful with radiation and use sunscreen almost constantly.
First signs of lupus
World Lupus Day reminds the general population of the characteristic signs and symptoms of this disease. Its early identification does not lead to cure, but improves chronic management to decrease acute attacks of it.
The sign of the butterfly wings is called, in technical terms, a malar rash. As if it were a skin irritation, the skin of the nose and cheeks turn red, giving the impression of a butterfly drawing.
Although the location is not always that, it turns out to be the most profound in the collective unconscious about the disease. The truth is that the rash can be present on the limbs and on the trunk, too.
The other prevalent symptom of systemic lupus erythematosus is joint pain. This comes from arthritis that triggers the autoimmune reaction unleashed within the body. The evolution of this arthritis is in acute attacks, with periods without pain and others very painful.
Finally, almost 90% of patients report extreme fatigue. This symptom is difficult to measure objectively, and doctors use quality of life questionnaires for it. There are many factors that determine exhaustion, including joint pain and a certain insomnia associated with lupus.
Other types of lupus
World Lupus Day brings up the less common presentations of pathology. As we have already said, systemic lupus erythematosus is the predominant, but not the only one. The disease has the ability to mask itself in other ways that make diagnosis difficult.
We can mention these other lupus types:
- Neonatal: This happens when the mother has lupus and transmits to her son the antibodies that she has and that attack her own tissues. It can be a serious condition if it progresses to heart problems.
- Dermal: This form focuses your symptoms on the skin. In general, patients do not have arthritis or complications in other organs. It would be a localized variety of lupus, and highly dependent on exposure to solar radiation.
- By reaction: it happens with drugs, and some consider it an adverse effect, rather than a disease in itself.
Lupus can be mild or severe. This will define the therapeutic approach. The World Lupus Day aims to promote research in this regard to improve the treatment of patients, however, so far we can only talk about control protocols, not cure.
When lupus is mild, doctors prescribe oral anti-inflammatories and creams for skin rashes, including butterfly wing malar reaction. There are patients who have obtained improvement using hydroxychloroquine, which is the medicine for malaria, and some new biologics, such as belimumab.
Serious presentations also need anti-inflammatories, but the attack doses are much higher. Along with corticosteroids, doctors prescribe azathioprine and cyclophosphamide, which are immunoregulators.
The challenge of living with the disease
Lupus is a pathology that affects the quality of life of people. Pain, skin reactions and extreme tiredness prevent the correct development of daily activities.
If you make progress with the disease, there may be drugs that can control and even cure the disorder. For now, it is essential that health teams support those affected by giving them tools to live better.
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