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Health Library


What Is Lupus?

Systemic lupus erythematosus is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. Lupus can damage any part of the body including skin, joints, and organs. The exact cause of lupus is not known.


Symptoms of lupus vary from person to person, and may come and go. Joint pain and rashes, often after going out in the sun, are common.


Lupus has a wide array of symptoms, many of which are consistent with other diseases, and therefore can be difficult to diagnose. If lupus is suspected, a physical exam and laboratory testing are done.


Treatment for lupus is directed toward each person’s individual symptoms. Wearing protective clothing and sunscreen is important to avoid sun exposure. Prescribed medications include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen), hydroxychloroquine, and stronger medications that suppress the immune system.

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