Does that look like a lupus rash

Lupus erythematosus: Butterfly disease often affects women

A butterfly-shaped rash on the face, joint pain, and hypersensitivity to sun exposure - what sounds like a collection of various evils are typical signs of lupus erythematosus. The disease is also popularly known as wolf or butterfly disease. Marie P. suffers from an autoimmune disease, 90 percent of which affects women of childbearing age. According to internists, there are around 60,000 lupus patients on the Internet in Germany.

Rash and sore joints

The 30-year-old's life has changed completely since she was diagnosed two years ago. Anyone who knew Marie in the past and sees them today hardly recognizes the young woman. Her face is covered with a red rash. Medication made her hair and eyebrows terribly thin. In addition, the constant intake of cortisone has increased her weight significantly. The pain in her joints made her gait more difficult - the posture is slightly stooped. As soon as the sun comes out, Marie takes refuge in the shade or covers herself with scarves and hats.

Lupus can also affect organs

In systemic lupus, the body forms antibodies that get into the blood and can thus reach all parts of the body. That is why the symptoms are very diverse. Lupus can potentially affect all organs and the entire body. That makes the disease dangerous. Inflammation of connective tissue, skin, joints and liver is particularly common. However, inflammation of the pleura or lungs, kidneys or heart also affects lupus patients.

"I'll have to live with it"

"I recently had hepatitis," says Marie. They can hardly understand that it is their own body that triggers the disease. "But it is so, I'll have to live with it." She finds support from her husband, who accompanies her through every episode of illness and all optical changes. "I wouldn't mind the ugly skin alone. But I really suffer from the fact that my hair is getting less and less. Those are the side effects of the medication and it just doesn't get better." The 30-year-old used to have long brown hair - not an easy change for a young woman. It is therefore no wonder that many sufferers develop depression.

Lupus patients are prone to depression

The prospect of forever taking medication and exposure to severe inflammation is overwhelming. Marie was therefore already in psychiatry. "I just couldn't take it anymore, it made me feel so bad," says the elementary school teacher. In the past, people with lupus usually died within five years. Today there is still no cure for the disease, but the prospects are better thanks to modern drugs.

Various drugs are usually administered for treatment: cortisone, immunosupressants and drugs that inhibit cell division and are also used in cancer patients. However, they usually have side effects. Lupus patients have a nearly normal life expectancy. The most common cause of death is no longer lupus itself, but complications such as thrombosis. In order to avoid this and to have safe care, Marie is being treated by a specialist in Bochum.

Lupus erythematosus - important information at a glance

What exactly is lupus?

Lupus erythematosus (also called butterfly or wolf disease) is a serious autoimmune disease that can damage practically all organs. Lupus usually progresses in bouts - although there can be a long time between the active phases with less severe symptoms. Autoimmune diseases are the umbrella term for diseases in which the body mistakenly recognizes and fights its own tissue as a foreign body. Doctors speak of an excessive immune reaction.

A distinction is made between different forms of the disease. The most common are:

  • Chronic Discoid Lupus (CDLE) - remains limited to the skin
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) - can damage all organs

Who is affected?

Women are affected much more often than men. 90% of all lupus patients are female. The disease usually develops around the age of 30. Often one can determine a familial accumulation.

Lupus symptoms

  • Butterfly erythema on the face (skin coloration that spreads butterfly-shaped over the bridge of the nose and carriage)
  • Skin symptoms on the body - mostly after exposure to sunlight
  • Joint discomfort mainly in the knee or hand
  • Joint swelling
  • muscle pain
  • Exhaustion
  • fever
  • Symptoms often show up after intense sun exposure - often after a vacation
  • Hair loss

Therapy and Treatment

If you suspect lupus, please contact your doctor immediately. He will recommend the therapy that makes sense for you individually. Depending on the severity, this could be topical treatment with a cortisone ointment. The use of immunosuppressive drugs is also likely. There is currently no drug against the disease, only against the symptoms. Patients should absolutely avoid direct sunlight. Sunscreens with a high sun protection factor against UV-A and UV-B radiation should be used.

Important NOTE: The information is in no way a substitute for professional advice or treatment by trained and recognized doctors. The contents of t-online cannot and must not be used to independently make diagnoses or start treatments.