Information on Lupus Foundation of America, Inc.
TYPES OF LUPUS: There are many types of lupus. Cutaneous lupus, which includes discoid lupus, is limited to the skin and is identified by a rash that may appear on the face, neck, or scalp. The rash may be more apparent on areas of the skin exposed to ultraviolet light (e.g., sunlight, fluorescent light). Although there are man types of lupus rash, the most common is raised scaly, and red, but not itchy.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) may include discoid lupus but also involves other parts of the body. It is usually more severe than discoid lupus. This type of lupus leads to inflammation. For some people this may be limited to skin and joint involvement. In others, the joints lungs, kidneys, blood or other organs and/or tissues may be affected. SLE may include periods in which few, if any, symptoms are evident (remission) and other times in which the disease becomes active (flare). The most predictable feature of systemic lupus is that it is unpredictable.
Certain prescribed drugs can create a lupus-like syndrome, called drug-induced lupus, which is similar to SLE. This lupus very rarely affects either the kidneys or the nervous system. The drugs most commonly connected with drug-induced lupus are no longer used as often as they used to be. They are hydralazine (used to treat hypertension) and procainamide (used to treat irregular heart rhythms). Only a minority of people who take these drugs will develop drug-induced lupus. When the medications are discontinued, the symptoms of lupus usually fade. Many other drugs have been implicated more rarely in rug-induced lupus, and some of these agents are still in wide use today.
The antiphospholipid syndrome, Sjogren’s syndrome, and thyroiditis (Hashimoto’s disease) are examples of manifestations of lupus-like symptoms which can occur on their own (as primary “single organ” syndromes), but are often found in patients with systemic lupus as well. In this way, they are similar to Cutaneous lupus and should be included in the broad range of illnesses linked to lupus.
Excerpt from Introduction to Lupus brochure by Lupus Foundation of America, Inc.