Written by Tadashi

Modified & Updated: 30 Dec 2023

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett

lupus facts

The body’s immune system is our first and last line of defense against viruses and diseases. However, what happens when this system fails? Lupus affects millions of people around the world, compromising their bodies’ defense systems. Learn more about the causes, symptoms, and properties of this disease through these lupus facts.

  1. 5 million people in the world have lupus.
  2. Medical treatment allows 80% of lupus patients to live for more than 15 years.
  3. Systemic lupus erythematosus counts for 70% of all cases.
  4. 2 to 7 new cases of lupus appear from among 10,000 people every year.
  5. 9 times more women suffer from lupus than men.
  1. Italian physician Rogerius Frugard first diagnosed lupus in the 12th century.
  2. French physician Pierre Cazenave first described lupus’ most common variant as lupus erythematosus in 1851.
  3. Ferdinand von Hebra and Moritz Kaposi concluded lupus was a chronic disease in 1872.
  4. Moritz Kaposi also differentiated another variant of lupus, discoid lupus.
  5. Doctors used quinine in 1894 as the first effective treatment for lupus’ symptoms.
  6. Doctors added salicylates to quinine in 1898 to improve its effectiveness against lupus’ symptoms.
  7. Research in the 1920s and 1930s discovered the full details of how lupus affects the human body.
  8. Doctors introduced corticosteroids in the 1950s as a treatment against lupus’ symptoms.
  9. The American College of Rheumatology standardized diagnosis methods for lupus in 1971.
  10. Doctors refined diagnosis methods for lupus first in 1982 and again in 2009.
  1. Alternative medicine has no effect on any of lupus’ variants.
  2. Lupus increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  3. Female patients who get pregnant have a higher risk of dying from the disease or its complications.
  4. Lupus is the Latin word for wolf, as the rash the disease causes looks like a wolf’s bite.
  5. Lupus alternates between periods with little or no symptoms, and those with heavy symptoms.
Table of Contents

Lupus Facts Infographics

Lupus Facts Infographics

Lupus has many symptoms.

Joint pain and swelling are the most common symptoms of lupus, usually affecting the hands and knees. Facial rash also affects 50% of all lupus patients. Other symptoms include chest pains, ulcers in the mouth, and weight loss. Some patients also develop arthritis because of lupus.

swollen knee, lupus facts
Photo by James Heilman, MD, from Wikipedia

Most patients develop lupus young.

Lupus commonly develops between the ages of 15 and 44, with symptoms growing worse the younger the patient acquires it. However, death rates are higher for older patients. This is one of the more unfortunate lupus facts.

Asian patients suffer worse from lupus than Caucasian patients.

Studies show that Caucasian patients have a survival rate of 94% to 96%. In contrast, most Asian patients have a survival rate of only 79% to 92%. Korean patients are an exception, instead having a higher survival rate of 98%. The reason for this difference remains unknown.

There is no cure for lupus.

One of the saddest lupus facts is that there is no cure. Instead, doctors can only manage its symptoms and reduce its effects. Lupus is characterized by the body’s immune system destroying itself, so immunosuppressants are commonly used to manage the disease. However, it has the unfortunate side-effect of increasing the body’s vulnerability to secondary infections. Male patients are also more vulnerable to secondary infections compared to women.

dexamethasone, lupus facts
Photo by melvil from Wikipedia

Lupus’ cause is still unknown.

Scientists say that many factors trigger the disease. One of those is genetics, though scientists still haven’t discovered the exact gene behind lupus. They also suspect certain combinations of genes could also cause lupus, or make a person predisposed to lupus. Other factors include the surrounding environment and other diseases. The study is ongoing, but scientists still have no conclusion.

Babies are prone to a type of lupus.

Neonatal lupus erythematosus develops among newborn babies and manifests as a rash weeks after birth. Thankfully, this variant of lupus is benign and rare.

baby, lupus facts
Photo by sathyatripodi from Pixabay

Discoid lupus leaves scars.

Discoid lupus erythematosus is a variant of lupus that causes lesions to break out on the skin. These lesions have a scaly or crusty appearance and can cause hair loss if they erupt on the scalp. Unfortunately, the scalp is a place where they commonly appear, along with the cheeks and ears.

One variant of lupus looks like psoriasis.

It’s called subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus. The disease’s rash starts out as scaly lesions that then grow to look like that of psoriasis. The rash also usually does not appear on the face but along the neckline and forearms. Doctors also say that this variant of the disease is a possible side-effect of Sun-sensitive medicines. That said, there is also evidence linking it to other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

psoriasis, lupus facts
Photo by James Heilman, MD, from Wikipedia

Certain drugs can cause lupus.

The most common ones are those containing hydralazine, procainamide, and quinidine. This variant of lupus is closer to an allergic reaction than an actual disease. The patient stopping to use the medicines responsible is enough to cause the symptoms to fade in days. Definitely one of the lupus facts to keep in mind.

Lupus is comedically-featured in the TV series House.

House is a TV series produced by Fox, with a character of the same name as the main character. In the series, lupus is often brought up as a possibility when the characters encounter a new disease. Said new diseases are almost never lupus, though.

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