Lupus, also called systemic lupus erythematosus, is an autoimmune condition that can affect almost any part of the body.   People can have mild disease, mainly causing joint and skin problems, to more severe disease where damage can happen to important organs such as the lungs, heart, brain or kidneys.

What are the symptoms?

Lupus is known as the disease with 1000 faces, as it effects people very differently and can have many different symptoms.  This makes Lupus difficult to diagnose.  There are some blood tests which can help with diagnosing Lupus, combined with assessing symptoms.  For example:

  • fatigue (tiredness no matter how much you rest)
  • joint pain/swelling
  • skin rashes – mainly across the bridge of the nose and across the cheeks
  • unexplained fever (a temperature without a cause)
Black woman with head in hands

Who is affected?

More women than men get lupus, and it’s more common in black and Asian women.  Currently in the UK, it is thought that up to 1 in 1000 people have Lupus.  Although lupus affects people of all ages, it’s most often diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 45.

Why does it happen?

As with most autoimmune diseases, there is no specific known cause for developing Lupus.  However, often the lupus patient has family members with an autoimmune condition such as rheumatism, MS, thyroid problems, diabetes, Raynauds, scleroderma or Sjogrens.   It is also possible that a viral infection, taking strong medication, a traumatic experience (physical/emotional), and changes in the body around puberty, after childbirth and the menopause, can all contribute. Environmental factors may also contribute in some way.


Early diagnosis and treatment of Lupus is important.  It is important to protect your skin in the sun by wearing a hat, covering up and using high factor sun cream (factor 50+).  Try and remain active, even on hard days.  Medical treatments may include:

For more information and support on Lupus visit – Lupus UK