Is Lupus Contagious We Explore

Is Lupus Contagious? We Explore

Among the most frequently asked questions about Lupus is whether or not it is contagious. While the short answer is no, it is necessary to have an understanding of what Lupus is, the different types of the condition, and what causes it, to arrive at this conclusion.

What is Lupus?

To understand how you get Lupus, it is first necessary to know more about it.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease. The body’s natural defense system is programmed to attack foreign cells in the body. With an autoimmune disease, the immune system attacks healthy cells, mistaking them for external invaders.

There are over 80 autoimmune diseases. Many of them, like Lupus, are more common in women than men. The most common ones are Rheumatoid Arthritis, Celiac Disease, Fibromyalgia, Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis, Psoriatic Arthritis, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Graves’ disease, and Lupus.

Lupus is more common in women than men and in Black, Asian, Latinx, Native American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islanders, who are up to four times more likely to develop the condition. It is most often diagnosed in patients between the ages of 15 and 45. However, anyone, even outside of these groups, can get Lupus.

Types of Lupus

When talking about Lupus, it is important to be specific about the type of Lupus as there are significant differences between them.

The most prevalent form of Lupus, and also the most dangerous, is Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. It is generally referred to simply as SLE. Although it often displays a ‘butterfly’ rash, it also affects the internal organs.

There are three main types of Cutaneous Lupus.

  • Acute Cutaneous Lupus refers to the ‘butterfly’ rash seen in SLE.
  • Discoid Lupus only affects the skin. The condition causes a nasty rash. The rash is aggravated by exposure to sunlight. Although it is mostly found on the neck, hands, feet, and scalp, it can appear on any part of the body. Discoid Lupus can cause permanent scarring, hair loss, and hyperpigmentation.
  • Subacute Cutaneous Lupus is responsible for sores or rashes after sun exposure. Certain medications may be responsible for it, for example, anti-fungal medications, blood pressure medications, chemotherapy medications, proton pump inhibitors, and tumour necrosis factor inhibitors. The two types of rash that occur with Subacute Cutaneous Lupus are lesions and red, dry skin that looks like psoriasis.

Drug-induced Lupus arises from the use of certain medications. Once you stop taking the drug, it usually disappears.

Neonatal Lupus affects newborn babies but is very rare. It may be caused by antibodies in the mother’s system.

Symptoms of Lupus

Common symptoms of autoimmune diseases in general are fatigue, joint pain and swelling, skin problems, abdominal pain or digestive issues, recurring fever, inflammation, and swollen glands. Quite a few of these apply to Lupus. One of the difficulties in diagnosing an autoimmune disease is this commonality.

When specifying the symptoms of Lupus, we need to indicate which type of Lupus we are talking about. We will be discussing the most common form, SLE.

The main symptoms of SLE are pain in the joints and muscles, abnormal fatigue regardless of how much rest you get, a butterfly-shaped rash that forms across the cheeks and bridge of the nose, and inflammation. Additional symptoms that may occur are headaches, mouth ulcers, a constant low-grade fever, alopecia, sensitivity to light, which may cause rashes on exposed skin, swelling in the legs, chest pain, and Raynaud’s Phenomenon.

Find out more here about Lupus and other conditions that affect the skin. The Patient website has helpful articles on a range of health-related topics, with are all reviewed by doctors to ensure they are factually correct.

How do you get Lupus?

Although it is not known definitively how you get lupus, there are three main suspects.

Lupus can run in families. Research has discovered over 60 genes that may contribute. On their own, they won’t cause Lupus, but they do make you more vulnerable to it in conjunction with other factors. In identical twins, if one has Lupus, the risk of it developing in the other twin is higher. Because Lupus is more common in certain racial groups, it is thought to be a result of sharing genes.

The condition is usually triggered by something in the environment and then symptoms develop. Sunlight is a major culprit and can set off flares once you have started with symptoms. Viral infections, such as the Epstein-Barr virus, exposure to chemicals, and certain medications can trigger Lupus.

Lastly, female hormones have been suspected because symptoms are worse before menstrual periods. At this time, estrogen levels rise.

In most cases of Lupus, there is no history of it in the family. However, family members are more likely to have other autoimmune diseases.

The final answer to our question is that you cannot catch Lupus. You cannot get it from close contact, not even from kissing or having sex.

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