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Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of lupus vary from person to person and by the type of lupus.

People with lupus may develop a rash, such as:

  • A rash resembling a butterfly that appears across the nose and cheeks (malar rash)
  • A red rash consisting of round or oval-shaped patches (discoid rash)
  • A rash on areas of the skin that are exposed to sunlight (typically the face and extremities)

A rash is typically the only symptom in discoid and subacute cutaneous lupus. People with other types of lupus may have a combination of the following additional signs and symptoms:

  • Muscle pain
  • Arthritis-like pain in one or more joints (but no or little joint damage)
  • Fever
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Sensitivity to sunlight
  • Raynaud phenomenon (fingers change color after exposure to cold temperatures or with stress)
  • Hair loss
  • Chest pain
  • Anemia
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Inflammation and damage to organs and tissues, including the kidneys, lungs, heart, lining of the heart, central nervous system, and blood vessels

Symptoms of lupus may come and go over time and vary from person to person. They may worsen abruptly and then die down. Flare-ups may be triggered by changes in someone's health status, such as physical or emotional stressors, and/or by outside stimulants such as exposure to sunlight. Women may experience flare-ups during pregnancy or shortly after giving birth.

People with lupus are at increased risk of infections, such as urinary tract infections, respiratory infections, yeast infections, salmonella, herpes and shingles, due to their weakened immune system from both the condition and its treatments. They are also at increased risk of cancer, bone tissue death, and pregnancy complications, including miscarriage and pre-eclampsia.

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