Our immune systems are incredible disease-fighting machines capable of defending us from a wide range of attacks on our system. But what if that same machine turned on us and became responsible for the attacks itself?

Lupus has a complex medical history dating back to the Middle Ages, where it was named after the Latin words for “the wolf.” Little was known about Lupus then, except the telltale rashes that signified it.

Though we still have much to learn about the condition, treatments have been discovered that can help minimize symptoms and prevent flares and the problems associated with them.

If you think you may have Lupus or are experiencing a flare and wondering to yourself, “How do you treat lupus?” we’ve got you covered. 

Keep reading to learn about some of the top tips for managing your lupus symptoms.

What Is Lupus?

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes inflammation throughout multiple systems of the body, of which the skin, internal organs, and joints are often the main targets.

Typically, white blood cells help our bodies fight off infection and illnesses. However, that is not the case for people with Lupus; their white blood cells are out of control and attack more than just the “bad guys.”

Instead, the white blood cells in a lupus patient attack anything in their path, wreaking havoc on their bodies and causing various side effects.

What Causes Lupus? 

The etymology, or cause of Lupus, is still unknown. Still, the pathway involves autoantibodies attacking their own tissues and causing the immune system to be in a constant state of high alert.

Chronically activated immune systems can lead to an increased number of inflammatory cells. That can ultimately damage blood vessels and create scar tissue within organs, leading them to function abnormally or fail.


Lupus is not contagious, and therefore a genetic predisposition plays a role, putting specific demographics at higher risk than others.

Lupus is nine times more common in women than men and targets African American women three times more than Caucasian women.

Women of childbearing age, between the ages of fifteen and forty-five, are also most commonly affected, though young children can also develop Lupus.

Due to the higher prevalence in women than men, researchers believe that Lupus may be related to the x chromosomes, as women have two x chromosomes whereas men only have one.

Neither the entire genetic components nor environmental factors of Lupus are fully understood yet.

Types of Lupus

Generally, when people speak about “Lupus” they’re referring to Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). This is the more severe form of Lupus which can affect any part of the body, including the organs.

The second type is Discoid Lupus Erythematosus, which only affects the skin. Signs of DLE will be seen first in the areas of skin that have been exposed to the sun, which is the main contributing factor for both types.

Symptoms and Signs of Lupus

Lupus may present differently in each person, depending on which type of Lupus you have. Lupus symptoms such as fatigue, rashes, and arthritis have a high prevalence, with other symptoms ranging anywhere from:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Rashes
  • Hair loss
  • Kidney, heart, or brain damage
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Weight loss
  • Chest pain
  • Polyarthritis
  • Brittle hair
  • Canker Sores 

Diagnosing Lupus

Lupus can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are vast and resemble those of other diseases. On average, it takes several years for a person to receive a lupus diagnosis before they can receive treatment.

There is no single test you can take that can diagnose you. You should speak to your doctor and thoroughly describe your symptoms so that your doctor may decide to perform further testing, such as:

Going over your medical history: In this step, you would go over your medical history with your doctor, sharing any history of disease in the family. 

Conducting a physical exam: Your doctor will check for telltale signs such as rashes, including both Malar rashes, also known as butterfly rashes, of the face, and discoid rashes, small disc-shaped rashes of the head or body.

Performing lab tests: This may include blood tests, urine tests, or biopsies to check for any signs of autoimmune disease and rule out any other conditions commonly confused with Lupus.

Lupus Triggers

Lupus varies in states of activity known as “flares.” When someone is experiencing a lupus flare, their symptoms worsen, causing them to feel ill. A remission then follows, where their symptoms improve again or go away.

The severity of these flares can differ from person to person and even differ with each flare-up. Triggers are often associated with anything that has a weakening effect on the immune system and can include:

  • UV rays from sun exposure
  • Viruses or infections
  • Certain medications
  • Emotional or physical stress
  • Pregnancy

Sun exposure is one of the major triggers of Lupus, and around 60 percent of those with lupus experience sun sensitivity. This is because UV light from the sun increases cell death, triggering further symptoms.

So reducing exposure to UV rays is an ideal way to protect yourself against flare-ups. Staying out of the sun or wearing lupus sun protective clothing are effective measures in doing so.

How Do You Treat Lupus?

There is no cure for Lupus, but there are things you can do to manage your symptoms and feel better. The goal of lupus treatments is primarily to prevent flare-ups and reduce symptoms or damage caused by symptoms.

Lupus medication may include non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, more powerful steroids for progressed symptoms, or antimalarial drugs. These can treat symptoms by helping to:

  • Minimize pain and swelling
  • Decrease your chance of having a flare
  • Help fight fatigue
  • Protect your organs from damage
  • Calm your immune system

Lupus has a good prognosis and if you begin treating Lupus early, you can minimize the effects it will have on your health in the long run.

Knowing How to Treat Lupus Is Key

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease, which currently, there is no cure for. However, treatment options can help reduce the number of flares you may experience and manage your symptoms.

Did reading this article about Lupus help answer any of your questions, like “How do you treat Lupus?” Then, be sure to check out the other articles in the Health section of our blog for more handy tips and resources!