See a GP if you often get:

  • joint pain and stiffness
  • extreme tiredness that will not go away no matter how much you rest
  • skin rashes – often over the nose and cheeks

These are the main symptoms of lupus.

As well as the 3 main symptoms, you might also have:

  • weight loss
  • swollen glands
  • sensitivity to light (causing rashes on uncovered skin)
  • poor circulation in fingers and toes (Raynaud's)

Important

Lupus is better managed if diagnosed and treated early.

Lupus is generally treated using:

  • anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen
  • hydroxychloroquine for fatigue and skin and joint problems
  • steroid tablets, injections and creams for kidney inflammation and rashes

Two newer medicines (rituximab and belimumab) are sometimes used to treat severe lupus. These work on the immune system to reduce the number of antibodies in the blood.

Although medicines are important in controlling lupus, you can help manage your symptoms and reduce the risk of it getting worse.

Do

  • eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • try to stay active when you're having a flare-up – try walking or swimming
  • get lots of rest
  • try relaxation techniques to manage stress – stress can make symptoms worse
  • use high-factor (50+) sunscreen – you can get it on prescription if you have lupus
  • wear a hat in the sun
  • tell your employer about your condition – you might be able to adjust your working pattern
  • ask for help from family, friends and health professionals

Don't

  • do not smoke – stopping smoking is the most important thing to do if you have lupus
  • do not sit in direct sunlight or spend a lot of time in rooms with fluorescent lights

Lupus is an autoimmune disease. This means the body's natural defence system (immune system) attacks healthy tissues.

It's not contagious.

It's not fully understood what causes lupus. A viral infection, strong medication, sunlight, puberty, childbirth and the menopause can all trigger the condition.

More women than men get lupus, and it's more common in black and Asian women.

Pregnancy and lupus

Lupus can cause complications in pregnancy.

See your doctor before trying to get pregnant to discuss the risks and so your medication can be changed if necessary.