Lupus is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease that is difficult to diagnose, difficult to manage and, to date, without cure. For most people, Lupus is a mild disease affecting only a few body organs; for others, it may cause serious and even life threatening problems. Current statistics indicate that Lupus affects adult women approximately 10 times more frequently than men. Children are also affected by Lupus. Even though Lupus is more prevalent in this country than AIDS, sickle cell anemia, cerebral palsy and cystic fibrosis, it is the least known of all major diseases.
Discoid Lupus (also known as cutaneous Lupus) is confined to the skin. It is characterized by persistent flushing of the cheeks and /or discoid lesions (i.e. rash) that appear on the face, neck, scalp and other areas of the skin exposed to ultraviolet light. The rash is often raised, scaly and red – but not itchy. These lesions, if not adequately treated, may cause permanent scars. In approximately 10 percent of those with Discoid Lupus the condition will progress into Systemic Lupus.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) can affect various organs or systems in the body. In some people, only the skin and joints may be involved. For others, the joints, kidneys and blood system may be affected. There may also be cases where multiple organ involvement exists. Lupus is characterized by periods of remissions (times during which few, if any, symptoms are evident) and flares (times during which symptoms become active). When people mention “Lupus” they are usually referring to the systemic form of the disease.