breast cancer awareness
Healthnotes Index:

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Also indexed as:SLE, Discoid Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, DLE
A butterfly-shaped rash on the face may be the first visible sign of lupus. While causes of this autoimmune disease are not clear, treatments do exist. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: Main Image

About This Condition

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune illness that causes a characteristic butterfly-shaped rash on the face accompanied by inflammation of connective tissue, particularly joints, throughout the body. In autoimmune diseases, the immune system attacks the body instead of protecting it. Kidney, lung, and vascular damage are potential problems resulting from SLE.

The cause of SLE is unknown, though 90% of cases occur in women of childbearing age. Several drugs, such as procainamide, hydralazine, methyldopa, and chlorpromazine, may create SLE-like symptoms. Environmental pollution and industrial emissions were associated with an increased risk of SLE in one study.1 In one reported case, zinc supplementation appears to have aggravated drug-induced SLE.2 Ultraviolet radiation from sun exposure is a commonly recognized trigger of the skin manifestations of lupus.3 Some environmental chemicals such as hydrazine4 and food dyes such as tartrazine5 may be environmental triggers of SLE in susceptible people.

Risk factors include a family history of SLE, other collagen diseases or asthma,6 menstrual irregularity,7 beginning menstruation at age 15 or later,8 exposure to toxic chemicals,9 and low blood levels of antioxidant nutrients, such as vitamin A and vitamin E, or beta-carotene.10 Free radicals are thought to promote SLE.11

Discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE) is a milder form of lupus that affects the skin. Like SLE, itís not known what causes DLE, though sun exposure may trigger the first outbreak. DLE is most common among women in their thirties.


Symptoms include decreased energy, weakness, fever, nausea, diarrhea, muscle and joint pain, chest pain, bruising, loss of appetite, weight loss, and a red, butterfly-shaped rash across the nose and cheeks. In addition, people with SLE may have symptoms of mouth sores, joint swelling, hair loss, changes in personality, seizures, and a coin-shaped, red skin rash elsewhere on the body that is aggravated by sunlight. Kidney, lung, and blood-vessel damage are potentially life-threatening manifestations of SLE.

Healthy Lifestyle Tips

In preliminary research, smoking has been linked to significantly increased risk of developing SLE, while drinking alcohol has been associated with a decrease in risk.12 The importance of these associations remains unclear, though an increased risk for many other diseases has been definitively linked to excessive consumption of alcohol.

Copyright © 2016 Healthnotes, Inc. All rights reserved.

Learn more about Healthnotes, the company.

The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2016.

Email Exclusives - Sign up to receive amazing deals via email:

Please note that does not process orders from Friday evening to Saturday evening.

The products and the claims made about specific products on or through this site have not been evaluated by or the United States Food and Drug Administration and are not approved to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment. You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem.

© 1999-2015 Kosher Vitamins Express. All Rights Reserved.

Report a bug on