Cutaneous Lupus (Discoid)
- Urticaria: Better known as hives, these lesions are quite itchy! Although linked to allergic reactions in the general public, lupus patients can experience hives lasting more than 24 hours at a time!
- Cutaneous vasculitis: Although the lesions associated with this condition may be itchy and resemble hives, they are caused by inflammation in the blood vessels near the skin and restrict blood flow.
- Purpura: These are small discolorations under the skin caused by leaking blood vessels. They are red or purple in color, can vary in size, and may indicate insufficient platelet levels.
- Alopecia: Otherwise known as hair loss, more than two-thirds of lupus suffers will experience this at some point during the course of the disease. The dry, brittle, breaking hair is most common near the top of the forehead and may or may not grow back depending on the cause.
There are three additional types of lupus to be aware of.
For those who do not have SLE, certain drugs can cause lupus-like symptoms, including specific blood pressure medications (hydralazine and methyldopa), a heart medication (procainamide), a drug used for metal poisoning called D-penicillamine, an acne medication (minocycline), and a drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis called anti-TNF.
Luckily, drug-induced lupus is temporary and generally subsides within a few months of stopping the medication causing it.
In women with certain autoantibodies (anti-Ro, anti-La, and anti-RNP), their babies may develop neonatal lupus — even if the mother herself does not have lupus. However, the 60 percent of women who do not have lupus but have babies with neonatal lupus may develop lupus or Sjogren’s syndrome later in life.
For the most part, neonatal lupus will subside on its own and generally only involves the baby’s skin. A very small percent (only one to two percent) may experience a congenital heart block.
Childhood lupus affects children in the much the same way as SLE affects adults. However, organs can be damaged to a greater degree, particularly the kidneys.
In fact, children with lupus are two times more likely to develop kidney disease than those with adult lupus.
More aggressive treatments options are generally required in childhood lupus. Furthermore, boys are more likely to develop childhood lupus than men are to develop adult lupus.
Lupus is a complicated and diverse illness. Affecting both children and adults, this debilitating condition can manifest in different forms. Treatment protocols are numerous, but it can still be difficult to control. Hopefully, the future will bring with it more knowledge, allowing new options for lupus patients.
Regardless of the type of lupus one may be dealing with, maintaining medical care is an absolute must! Proclaiming victory over specific battles is certainly worth celebrating; however, our ultimate goal is to win the war! Keep fighting fellow lupus warriors!