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Lupus

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), often called lupus, is a chronic (long-term) autoimmune disease causing widespread inflammation and a range of symptoms.


What is lupus?

Lupus is a complex condition where your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue (an autoimmune disease) causing inflammation. The most common symptoms are joint pain, skin rashes and tiredness. Lupus can also cause many other symptoms affecting your:

    • Brain and nervous system
 
    • Heart and blood vessels
 
    • Digestive system
 
    • Kidneys
 
    • Lungs
 
  • Other organs and tissues, including the pancreas, liver or spleen

Lupus symptoms can come and go, with periods where it’s much worse called flare-ups. It can be difficult to live with, affecting your daily life. Severe lupus can damage the organs and tissues that are affected.

It’s six times more common in women than in men. It’s also more common in people of African, Caribbean, Asian or Chinese origin. Lupus typically develops between the ages of 20 and 49 and rarely affects children.

Although there’s no cure for lupus, symptoms can usually be managed through various medications, especially if started early on in the disease.


How to tell if you have lupus

Symptoms of lupus can range from mild to severe. They vary from person to person, although the most common symptoms are:

    • Joint pain and swelling – most commonly affecting fingers, hands, wrists and knees
   
  • Skin rashes – many people develop a butterfly-shaped rash across their cheeks and nose

Other common symptoms include:

 
    • Fever, headaches and/or a general feeling of being unwell (malaise)
   
    • Mouth ulcers
 
    • Poor circulation in your fingers and toes
 
    • Sensitivity to sunlight
   

organs affected by lupus Principally the kidneys and the skin, also the heart, lungs and brain.

 

The two major symptoms are joint and muscle pain and an extreme tiredness that won't go away no matter how much you rest.

Rashes, depression, anaemia, feverishness, headaches, possible hair loss and mouth ulcers may all be part of the pattern of lupus.

Noticeably, whilst the two major symptoms are invariably present, people with lupus can differ greatly in their symptoms and how the illness can affect them - life-threatening for a few, very mild for some. Miscarriage, often recurrent, is another unhappy complication of lupus.

 

the main trigger of lupus is hormonal activity and change, and lupus can often trigger after childbirth, at the menopause or during puberty and usually between the ages of 15 and 55.

 

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that is caused when your own immune system attacks your tissue and organs. This causes systemic inflammation in many different body systems, including joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, and major organs.

Does Lupus cause hair loss?

There are two ways that lupus can cause hair loss. The first is through inflammation of the skin, including the scalp and face. The other cause of hair loss can be a side effect of medications that are used to treat lupus.

Not everyone who has lupus experiences hair loss. However, it is relatively common.

Lupus causes systemic inflammation throughout the body, which means it can cause hair loss all over. It is the inflammation of the skin, especially in areas with hair follicles, that can cause hair loss.

This means that those who have lupus can experience not only the loss of scalp hair but also eyebrow, eyelash, beard and body hair. Some experience gradual thinning out of the hair, but it is also known for people suffering from lupus to lose clumps of hair.

Additionally, some of the medications that are used to treat lupus, such as steroids and immunosuppressants, can cause the hair to become extremely brittle and break off at the root.

Why does lupus make your hair fall out?

Lupus causes hair loss in two ways, direct inflammation of the skin, preventing hair follicles from growing, and hair loss as a result of medications used to treat lupus.

The most direct way that lupus causes hair loss is due to inflammation of the skin that has hair follicles. These hair follicles then stop producing hair.

Lupus is a severe autoimmune disease, and the medications that are used to treat it can be just as severe. They come with a lot of side effects. Immunosuppressants, such as methotrexate, leflunomide, cyclophosphamide, and etanercept, are often prescribed to treat lupus, can cause hair follicles to become inactive. This is because they suppress a lot of the body’s own systems, including hair production.

Medications that are used to treat lupus can also directly affect the hair itself, causing it to become brittle. Brittle hair often breaks off at the root, giving the appearance of hair loss.

Is lupus hair loss reversible?

Hair loss due to lupus can be reversible, but only if it is caused by inflammation of the skin, and if lupus successfully goes into remission. However, if the hair loss is caused by lesions or sores, the hair loss will not be reversible.

Lupus can sometimes cause discoid sores or lesions, which can form anywhere on the body. These sores and lesions can cause permanent scarring to the skin, and the scars damage hair follicles, leaving them unable to grow new hair follicles.

How much hair do you lose with lupus?

According to one study, women suffering from systemic lupus erythematosus lost between 55 per cent and 100 per cent of their hair.

However, it is important to recognise that this was only one study, and it only looked at hair loss in four women. In order to draw proper scientific conclusions, a larger scale study is needed.


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