Lupus is a systemic autoimmune disease that occurs when the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues and organs. Inflammation caused by lupus can damage many different parts of the body including the joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart, and lungs.
There are several types of lupus:
- Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is the most common type. It can be mild or severe and can affect many parts of the body.
- Cutaneous lupus can be categorized into three main forms: chronic cutaneous lupus (CCLE), subacute cutaneous lupus (SCLE) and acute cutaneous lupus (ACLE).
- Drug-induced lupus is caused by certain prescription drugs.
- Neonatal lupus is a rare type of lupus that affects newborns. It is caused by the transfer of lupus antibodies from the mother who has lupus to the fetus.
Lupus can be difficult to diagnose because its signs and symptoms can be vague, and often mimic those of other conditions. Lupus is more common in women of childbearing age; however, men, children, and teenagers can develop lupus as well. The disease can affect all ages, but people with lupus usually develop the disease between the ages of 15-44.
Researchers believe that lupus develops in response to a combination of factors both inside and outside the body, including hormones, genetics, and environment. It appears that people with an inherited predisposition for lupus may develop the disease when they are exposed to something in the environment that can trigger lupus. The cause of lupus in most cases, however, is unknown.