Lupus is an autoimmune disease where the body's immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal, healthy tissue. Under normal function, the immune system makes proteins called antibodies in order to protect and fight against antigens such as viruses and bacteria. Lupus makes the immune system unable to differentiate between antigens and healthy tissue. This leads the immune system to direct antibodies against the healthy tissue - not just antigens - causing swelling, pain, and tissue damage.
History of Lupus
The word “Lupus" comes from the Latin word for "wolf". In the 13th century, a physician name Rogerius used this term to describe facial lesions that reminded him of a wolf's bite (Boltzer 1983). Later in the early 19th century, several physicians noted the various symptoms of lupus, which lead them to believe that there was more than one type of lupus. There was one that affected the skin (cutaneous disease), and there was one that had an effect on the body, the systemic form. The systemic form is what we call lupus today.
Types of Lupus
The disease that we know as lupus is considered to be systemic lupus erythematosus. However, there are several forms of lupus. Grönhagen and Nyberg did a Venn diagram to illustrate the relationships between the various types of lupus (Fig.1 ) (2014). The following are some symptoms that are associated with each type of lupus, and may serve to be a distinguishing factor between them.
Systemic Lupus (SLE)
When a person has SLE, some of the symptoms may include fatigue, joint pain and swelling, and headaches. They may develop a fever, or have unexplained weight gain or loss. Their extremities may turn purple from poor circulation.
Acute Lupus erythematosus (ACLE)
Sometimes when people have the SLE form, they also have a malar rash across their cheeks, which can look like a red butterfly. These individuals may also be sensitive to light, and have a tendency to get ulcers in the mouth.
Subacute Lupus erythematosus (SCLE)
According to Grönhagen and Nyberg, Caucasian women are most likely to have lupus of this type (2014). People that have SCLE typically have a dry rash with no itching. It is usually found on the trunk area of the body, the rash does not scar, unlike discoid lupus. Sometimes medication can have a lupus-like side effect that produces a rash. Once a person stops taking the medication, the rash goes away. However, if the person is already diagnosed with SCLE, taking such medications will make the lupus symptoms worse.
Neonatal Lupus erythematosus (NLE)
When mothers that have SCLE have children, there is a chance that the baby can develop this form of lupus. The baby is born with a ring-like rash mark on the forehead. Even though the mark will disappear after several months, the baby’s chances of having congenital heart problems increases.
Discoid Lupus erythematosus (DLE)
For discoid lupus, a characteristic red or purple scaly patch is indicative of this disease. These patches can leave scarring,...