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What Is Lupus?

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What is Lupus?

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can affect many systems in the body and present with a variety of symptoms, the most common being a skin rash.

The disease is more common in Afro-Caribbean people and women and the cause of it remains unknown.

What are the common symptoms?

One of the common symptoms is referred to as a butterfly rash because it is a red rash that extends across the nose and onto the cheeks like two butterfly wings.

Whilst the butterfly rash is a common symptom not all people with this automimmune disease have it, this makes the condition very difficult to diagnose.

Other common symptoms include:

• Joint pain
• Fatigue
• Less specific rashes

It is not just the variety of symptoms that makes this a difficult condition to diagnose. Some sufferers have particular antibodies present in blood tests but this is not true of all cases. It is possible that a biopsy is needed to reach a definite diagnosis. This involves removing a small section of skin for analysis.

Practitioners with experience in diagnosis are able to make a diagnosis by looking at the full spectrum of symptoms presented by the patient. Expert, Dr Peter Saul urges anyone who thinks they might have an autoimmune disease to ask for a specialist opinion from a rheumatologist to confirm a diagnosis.

Dr. Peter Saul, MB ChB DRCOG DCH MRCGP, Allergy Specialist


10010 Published September 2011

Revised November 2012

Review Scheduled November 2013

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