Myths and Facts about Lupus - Division of Rheumatology

Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of various parts of the body, especially the skin, joints, blood, and kidneys. While the disease affects one out of every 185 Americans, few people know about lupus, which has led to some myths about the condition.

MYTH: Only adults and the elderly get lupus.

FACT: Lupus affects people of all ages. Approximately 20 percent of all lupus patients are under 20 years old. The most common age range for people with lupus is 15-45 years old.

MYTH: Lupus can be cured.

FACT: No cure has been found for lupus. With the help of medicines and treatments, symptoms can be controlled and the disease can go into remission. However, flare-ups can occur at any time.

MYTH: Lupus is contagious.

FACT: Lupus is not contagious. Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of various parts of the body, including skin, joints, blood, and kidneys. While the cause of the disease is not known, the disease is not spread through contact with those affected by it.

MYTH: Only women get lupus.

FACT: While 90 percent of lupus patients are women, men are also at risk. Although fewer cases exist, the disease is more difficult to diagnose and treat in men.

MYTH: More people have AIDS than lupus.

FACT: Lupus strikes more people than AIDS, Sickle Cell Anemia, Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, and Cystic Fibrosis combined.

MYTH: You cannot die from lupus.

FACT: Cases of lupus range from mild to life threatening. The earlier the disease is detected, the better the chance of controlling the advancement of the disease. However, serious cases of lupus can lead to kidney and heart failure.

MYTH: You can always recognize someone with Lupus.

FACT: The majority of the symptoms of lupus are internal; therefore, it is hard to identify a person with lupus by outward appearance. Some of the symptoms of lupus are joint pain, fatigue, and a skin rash across the face.

MYTH: I get a rash when I am in sunlight, but it is only because I get overheated.

FACT: One symptom of lupus is a skin rash, which is often triggered by exposure to sunlight. While not all rashes are indicative of lupus, a reoccurring "butterfly" rash across the cheeks and nose could be a warning sign of lupus.

MYTH: I am tired all of the time. I might be depressed.

FACT: Fatigue is a common symptom of lupus that is often misdiagnosed as depression or another disorder.

MYTH: Most lupus patients visit the appropriate doctor to treat the disease, and there are enough doctors specialized to treat lupus.

FACT: The majority of lupus patients are treated by their pediatrician, internist, or other specialists, and not by Rheumatologists, who specialize in lupus and other connective tissue diseases. More Rheumatologists are needed. There are about five positions for every one Rheumatologist.