Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (more commonly known as Lupus or SLE) is a rare chronic disease which causes inflammation of the body’s organs. Whilst the cause of the condition is still unknown, it’s thought to be an autoimmune disease, where the body produces antibodies which attack its own cells and tissues.
What are the symptoms of Lupus?
There are a number of symptoms which may present themselves in Lupus sufferers, including hair loss. Here are a few of the most common symptoms, which can range from mild to severe:
- Red or pink rash – this is often shaped like a butterfly and spreads across the nose and cheeks (originally thought to resemble a wolf bite, and where Lupus – Latin for ‘wolf’ – gets its name from)
- Swollen glands
- Feeling of extreme fatigue and constantly feeling tied
- Chest pain when breathing deeply
- Swollen, often painful joints
- Hair loss (usually on the scalp, but can occur anywhere on the body)
Diffuse hair loss can often be experienced by those with Lupus, as the body’s immune response mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. The severity of hair loss can vary greatly from one person to another and patients may recover temporarily or experience hair loss which comes and goes as the severity of the disease fluctuates. Hair loss caused by Lupus could become permanent due to scarring of the scalp, which is why it is important to seek treatment as soon as symptoms are evident.
Who is susceptible to Lupus?
The condition is most prevalent in women and people with dark skin, with the University Of Maryland Medical Centre (UMMC) advising African-Americans are three to four times more likely to develop the disease and experience severe complications than Caucasians. According to figures from London’s St. Thomas’ Lupus Trust, the current numbers of estimated LSE sufferers is 1 in 750 for Caucasian females and as high as 1 in 250 amongst Afro-Caribbean and Indian females.
It most commonly affects women aged 20 to 40, although anyone can be affected, at any age. It is also possible to be genetically predisposed to Lupus. The UMMC also noted siblings of sufferers are 20 times more likely to have the disease compared to someone without an immediate family member with SLE.
What are the treatment options?
Those who suspect they may be suffering from Lupus should seek medical advice. Whilst hair loss is often one of the first things to be noticed, a feeling of fatigue is also a common early sign of Lupus.
It’s thought that hormonal changes can cause Lupus, which may explain why it’s more common in women, and certain drugs can also cause the condition to flare up. Symptoms can range from mild to life-threatening, and as such, treatment options vary.
If you are experiencing hair loss caused by Lupus, you may wish to consider a professional course of treatment, to cover patches of scarring on your scalp. Your GP may prescribe corticosteroids or immune-suppressants to treat your symptoms, and a simple blood test is usually all that is required for a diagnosis. The Lupus Foundation of America advises sufferers not to experiment with treating lupus-related hair loss themselves using over-the-counter remedies without first consulting their doctor.
The Belgravia Centre
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our online diagnostic form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our hair loss success stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.