Types of Lupus
There are several different types of lupus:
- Systemic lupus erythematosus, or SLE, is the most common form of lupus.
- Discoid lupus erythematosus causes a skin rash that doesn’t go away.
- Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus causes skin sores on areas of the body exposed to the sun.
- Neonatal lupus affects newborns.
- Drug-induced lupus can be caused by certain medicines.
At least 1.5 million people in the United States, and 5 million people worldwide, are living with lupus, according to the Lupus Foundation of America. More than 16,000 new cases of lupus are reported each year in the United States. Some experts believe the disease is underdiagnosed, meaning that many more people have lupus than statistics state, but they don’t realize it.
Causes and Risk Factors
Researchers don’t know exactly what causes lupus (or many other autoimmune diseases). For some reason, the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own tissues. Most experts believe that genetic and environmental factors both play a role in the development of lupus. Research has suggested that the disease might be triggered by factors such as infections, drugs, or sunlight.
Lupus isn’t a contagious disease. You can’t “catch” it or give it to someone else. Being a woman puts you at a greater risk for developing lupus. The disease occurs 10 times more often in women than in men. It’s also more common in people of African, Hispanic, or Asian descent, although people of all races and ethnicities can get lupus.
Women of color are two to three times more likely to develop the disease than white women. Most people are diagnosed with lupus between the ages of 15 and 40, but children and older adults can also develop the condition.