Do we treat Lupus and how successful is treatment?

For severe cases of Lupus it may be possible to use a hair replacement system, which can in some cases cover up the appearance of the hair loss.

What is Lupus?

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE or lupus) is a rare chronic disease manifested by inflammation of multiple organ systems including the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels and brain. The ratio of women to men affected by Lupus is around 10:1.

While the cause of Lupus remains unknown, blood test abnormalities tend to implicate an autoimmune mechanism where antibodies are produced against one’s own cells and tissues. Unlike Alopecia Areata, where antibodies are found specific for components within the hair follicle, the characteristic laboratory finding in Lupus is the presence of antibodies to our basic genetic material, DNA, and other substances found within the nuclei of all cell types in the body. In addition to these antinuclear antibodies (ANA), there may be antibodies to blood cells and various proteins present in the blood circulatory system.

Skin rashes appear in the majority of patients with Lupus. The classic manifestation of Lupus is a pink, butterfly-shaped eruption over the nose and cheeks that is aggravated by sun exposure. A similar rash, bruising, hives, blisters or ulcers may be present in other areas. In association, there may be diffuse hair loss as a result of the generalized immune response throughout the body. Hair loss caused by Lupus can temporarily recover or it may wax and wane with changes in disease severity. However, hair loss caused by Lupus can in many cases become permanent as a result of scarring. The hair loss is associated with a heavy infiltrate of immune cells in the skin. As with many autoimmune diseases there may be spontaneous remission for some people who have Lupus.

Treatment for Lupus may involve the use of corticosteroids or other immuno-suppressants. In some cases hair transplants may be used to cover small patches of scarring alopecia resulting from Chronic Discoid Lupus Erythematosus.

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