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Lupus Autoimmune Disease History Butterfly Rash Symptoms

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Last updated 06/02/2023

In the United States over 200,000 cases may be reported each year. This condition is chronic which means it can last for years or even lifelong. Lupus autoimmune disease let’s take a look.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can affect multiple areas of your body. This occurs when the immune system, that typically supports protecting the body against infection and disease, harms its own cells. As a result, inflammation develops and in certain individuals permanent tissue damage. Further, this could be widespread.

The main cause of lupus is unknown. Researchers are still observing what could cause triggers that lead to the disease. Furthermore, it is complex.

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What is Lupus?

Lupus also known as systemic lupus erythemalosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease with systemic manifestations. Thus, your immune system attacks its own tissues. And your immune system produces inflammation as this abnormal response.

Because it is an inflammatory disease lupus affects:

  • The joints
  • Skin
  • Kidneys
  • Blood cells
  • Brain
  • Heart
  • Lungs

Lupus is not contagious and has no cure. Further, the disease is difficult to diagnose because its signs and symptoms can mimic other conditions. And it has also been referred to as the disease with 1,000 faces. It requires a diagnosis by a physician through lab tests or imaging. But treatment can help.

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Inflammation Two Main Types

Acute Inflammation

Acute inflammation occurs after injury or illnesses such as a broken bone or a lung infection. It is often visible, and easy to locate with a specific cause. Once the broken bone heals or antibiotics start to work, the inflammation subsides.

Chronic Inflammation

SLE and other autoimmune diseases fit in with chronic inflammation because it continues for a long time. Generally, the disease is diffuse or invisible with the difficult design to diagnose and treat.

At some time in your life you will probably experience inflammation because of an injury or illness. For example, going to the beach and getting sunburn is inflammation of your skin. Certainly, it can be uncomfortable as well as painful it usually is pretty easy to treat. After that, it eventually fades away.

However, if you have lupus, this inflammation typically does not vanish. And it seems to come back again and again. Because of this long-lasting form of inflammation your attention is always required.

Most importantly, you should understand this inflammatory disease called lupus well. The more you are educated about this condition the better you know what is happening to your body and can empower yourself.

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Lupus Origin

There isn’t much information on the earlier history and treatment of lupus. The Ancient Greeks and Egyptians did notice it as a skin condition. Eye opening visible lesions would lead to this diagnosis. This is a brief history of lupus at its origin.


According to the National Library of Medicine Hippocrates first described cutaneous ulcers as herpes esthiomenos. Researchers think Herbernus of Tours was the first to utilize the word lupus as a skin disease in 916 A.D.

Thirteenth Century

The thirteenth century physician Rogerius first used the name. It comes from the Latin word referring to a wolf. That is to say, Rogerius was describing erosive facial lesions similar to a wolf’s bite.

Likewise, the word erthematosus is from the Greek word erythros. This addresses the redness of those circular shaped facial lesions.

Classical Period

Classical descriptions during the period of 1230-1856 of the many dermatologic features were given by Thomas Bateman. He studied under the British dermatologist Robert William, in the early nineteenth century.

In addition, others such as Cazenave, who studied with the French dermatologist Laurent Biette during the mid-nineteenth century. Likewise, another student and son-in-law to Austrian dermatologist Ferdinand von Hebra, was Moriz Kaposi (aka Moriz Kohn). This was in the late nineteenth century.

As of 1833 Cazenave began referring to the lesions as discoid lupus under the term “erythema centrifugum.” Cazenave switched the name erythema centrifugum to lupus erythematosus. He provided a classic description of discoild lupus erythematosus.

Further, noted in 1846 Hebra, using the name of Seborrhea Congestiva explained disc-shaped patches. Also he mentioned the butterfly simile for the malar rash. In conclusion, the first published drawings of lupus erythematosus were shown in von Hebra’s text, Atlas of Skin Diseases. His text was published in 1856.

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Lupus Autoimmune Disease Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of lupus can materialize suddenly or happen slowly. In addition, they can be mild or severe. As well as be, temporary or permanent.

Lupus symptoms may vary but can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain; stiffness and swelling
  • Rash
  • Fever
  • Skin lesions

A facial rash can be seen in many but not all cases of the disease. Further, it looks like a butterfly with wings spread out across both cheeks.

The majority of those with lupus have mild symptoms characterized by periods known as flare-ups. This is when their symptoms become worse for a time. That is to say, flares can be unpredictable.

On the other hand, there can be times of remission. This can also be called periods of wellness when symptoms have vanished. Your symptoms of the disease will be according to your affected body systems.

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Cause of Lupus

Certain individuals are born with a tendency toward lupus developing. Those with a predisposition for lupus could develop the disease through exposure to an environmental trigger. Lupus can be triggered by infections, some drugs or possibly sunlight.

As a result, lupus could occur from a combination of your genes and the environment. A study done in 2022 suggest that the Toll-like receptor (TLR) 7 gene could be a possible main trigger for lupus occurring in humans. But there is not enough evidence for this cause yet. Still, in most cases the cause is unknown.

Triggers for Lupus


The sun could bring on the skin lesions or trigger an internal response in some.


An infection could initiate the disease, or some people could have a relapse.


Some forms of blood pressure medications, anti-seizure medications and antibiotics can trigger lupus. However, with drug-induced lupus symptoms improve once the medications are stopped. Rarely, symptoms could continue even when the drug is not taken.

Lupus Risk Factors

These risk factors could increase your chances of getting lupus.


Lupus is seen more in females between ages 15 to 44. This is considered childbearing years. With lupus comes the risk of other health issues. Likewise, the disease can also cause these issues to occur earlier in life versus females not having lupus.


People are usually diagnosed between ages 15-44. But lupus can affect any age group.


Lupus is often discovered in:

  • African American
  • Hispanic
  • Latino
  • Asian Americans
  • Native Americans
  • Pacific Islanders

African American and Hispanic females often develop lupus when younger. They have more serious symptoms with kidney problems compared to other groups.

Further, African Americans having lupus will have more issues with seizures, strokes and dangerous swelling of the heart. As well as Hispanic women with lupus have additional heart problems compared to other groups.

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Lupus Autoimmune Disease Complications

Inflammation due to lupus can alter other locations of your body.


Lupus can seriously damage your kidneys (lupus nephritis), a common problem. Kidney involvement affects more than half with lupus. Usually kidney issues start within the first five years when lupus symptoms appear. In short, kidney failure is one of the main reasons of death for those with lupus.

As well as kidney inflammation not typically causing pain there are no signs this is happening. Most importantly, those with lupus require regular checks for kidney disease. Getting a urine and blood test will look at kidney function. Treating lupus nephritis is best when caught early.

Brain and Central Nervous System

If lupus is modifying your brain, you could experience:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Changes in behavior
  • Vision issues
  • Strokes
  • Seizures

Those with lupus could have memory problems creating it harder to express their thoughts.

Blood and Blood Vessels

This disease could lead to blood problems, like anemia. In other words, it lowers the amount of healthy red blood cells. And an increased risk for bleeding or blood clotting is possible. As well as causing inflammation of the blood vessels.


Lupus can increase your chances for inflammation developing in the chest cavity lining. Thus, breathing becomes painful. In addition, inflammation can cause bleeding into your lungs and pneumonia.


This autoimmune disease can lead to inflammation of your heart muscle, your arteries or heart membrane. Your chances for cardiovascular disease and heart attacks rise significantly also.

Lupus presents a risk for the most common kind of heart disease known as coronary artery disease (CAD). Those having lupus have more risk factors for CAD. These are high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes.

Another risk for CAD is inflammation which lupus causes. Due to fatigue, joint problems and muscle pain women with lupus can be less active. This presents another risk for heart disease.

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Additional Lupus Complications

These risk factors also go up.


Having lupus forms you more vulnerable to infection. The reason is lupus along with its treatments can weaken your immune system.


Diagnosed with lupus can put you at a higher risk for cancer. But, this is small.

Bone Tissue Death

This could happen as the blood supply to the bone declines. As a result, tiny fractures in the bone form and eventually this leads to the bone’s collapse.

Medicines used to treat lupus can also cause bone loss. This in turn can lead to osteoporosis with weak and broken bones. Being active is important to prevent bone loss as well.

Pregnancy Issues

Females diagnosed with lupus are at an increased risk for miscarriage. That is to say, the risk for high blood pressure with pregnancy and preterm birth could occur. To reduce the risk, physicians recommend postponing your plans to become pregnant.

To sum up, your disease should be under control for a minimum of 6 months.

What can You Do?

  • Get involved
  • Participate in a walk or run
  • Become an advocate
  • Donate
  • Start a fundraiser
Wrapping it up

Lupus is a very complex chronic autoimmune disease. Females of childbearing age are most often affected. Be aware of your risk factors if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. Certain ethnic groups are at risk for lupus.

Symptoms can vary according to your body area affected. Lupus can affect your skin, organs and muscles. That is to say, there are many health complications.

In addition, flare-ups can be unpredictable and the disease misunderstood. However, there may be times of wellness called remission.


Mary is the founder of All About Our Skin. Former esthetician and CPC. Enjoys researching skincare and has been studying our skin for the past fifteen years.

Researching content:  accessed 05/2023 National Institute of Health Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Overview on SLE

accessed 05/2023 Mayo Clinic on lupus symptoms and causes accessed 05/2023 Lupus Research Alliance on Lupus research accessed 05/2023 Lupus Foundation of America on History of Lupus  accessed 05/2023 American Academy of Dermatology Association Lupus and Your Skin  accessed 05/2023 Healthline Everything you Need to Know About Lupus

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