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eMed previously Babylon Health


Edited by Dr Claudia Pastides, 1st April 2019

Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus) is an autoimmune condition that predominantly affects the joints and skin, but can also lead to inflammation in other body parts. This inflammation can cause severe damage to organs in the body.


  • It isn’t always known what causes someone to develop lupus but it is likely due to a combination of genes and lifestyle factors.
  • Certain medications are also known to trigger or worsen lupus, such as ACE inhibitors that are used to treat high blood pressure or beta blockers.
  • Sunlight can worsen skin lesions or trigger lupus.
  • A viral condition can sometimes trigger lupus

Risk factors

  • Being aged between 15 and 45
  • Lupus is more common in women than men
  • It is more common in black and Asian women

Typical Symptoms

Symptoms can flare up and down over weeks and months. Typical symptoms include:

  • Painful joints
  • A skin rash (typically found on the face over the nose, spreading across the cheeks and sensitive to light)
  • Feeling very tired

Depending on what other organs are affected, you can also feel short of breath, have chest pain, dry eyes or other organ specific symptoms.

Common Treatment

  • Anti inflammatory medication
  • Medication specific for lupus
  • Steroids

When to speak to a doctor

If you’re worried you might have lupus, your initial concern can often be managed via a digital consultation. If the GP decides you need tests or a face to face appointment, they will discuss what steps you can take next.

To speak to one of our GPs, download the app and create an account today.

Living with lupus

Lupus can be improved through lifestyle measures such as:

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Keeping out of direct sunlight, wearing hats and using high factor SPF sun lotion
  • Staying active
  • Managing stress
  • Stopping smoking

More information

Lupus UK -


The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of a doctor with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never delay seeking or disregard professional medical advice because of something you have read here.