Sign in to My HQ

About Our Organization

LUPUS: A disease you should know about

What is lupus?

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can attack any organ system in the body including the heart, lungs, kidney, brain, and skin. Currently there are at least 1.5 million people living with lupus in the United States and more than 16,000 new cases are reported across the country each year. 9 out of 10 lupus patients are women and people of color are 3 times more likely to develop lupus than Caucasians. However, anyone can develop lupus including children, teens, and men. Many people living with lupus donít look sick. Our Walks for Lupus Now! create awareness for this invisible disease. People living with lupus often experience:
Achy, painful, and/or swollen joints

Redness or a rash in the shape of a butterfly across the nose and cheeks

Rashes/skin abnormalities

Persistent, extreme fatigue and weakness

Anemia, low white blood cell count and/or low platelet count

Sores in the skin, mouth, or nose

A low-grade fever over 100 degrees

Chest pain while taking deep breaths

Protein in the urine

Hair loss

Seizures, blood clots, heart attacks, strokes, miscarriage

What Causes Lupus?

No one knows exactly what causes lupus.Scientists believe that it is a combination of hormones, genetics (heredity), and environmental factors.

The hormone estrogen plays a role in lupus. Men and women both produce estrogen, but estrogen production is much greater in females. This does not mean that estrogen, or any other hormone causes lupus.

While no gene or group of genes has been proven to cause lupus, the disease appears in certain families. And, although lupus can develop in people with no family history, there are tendencies for other autoimmune diseases to be present in family members.

Your genes may increase the chance that you will develop lupus, but scientists believe it takes some kind of environmental trigger to set off the illness or to bring on a flare, such as:

  • -ultraviolet rays from the sun or from fluorescent light bulbs
  • -sulfa drugs, which make a person more sensitive to the sun
  • -penicillin or certain other antibiotic drugs
  • -some tetracycline drugs
  • -infection
  • -a cold or a viral illness
  • -exhaustion
  • -injury
  • -emotional stress
  • -anything that causes stress to the body, like surgery, an accident, or pregnancy

Forms of Lupus
There are several forms of lupus.

Systemic lupus erythematosus is the most common form of lupus, and is what most people mean when they refer to 'lupus.' Systemic lupus can affect any part of your body, and can be mild or severe. Some of the more serious complications involving major organ systems are:
  • inflammation of the kidneys (lupus nephritis)
  • an increase in blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension)
  • inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis)
  • hardening of the arteries (coronary artery disease)
  • inflammation of the central nervous system (CNS) and brain
  • inflammation of the brainís blood vessels

Cutaneous lupus erythematosus is limited to your skin. Although cutaneous lupus can cause many types of rashes and lesions (sores), the most common kind is raised, scaly and red, but not itchy; it is called a discoid rash because the areas of rash are shaped like disks, or circles. Another common example of cutaneous lupus is the rash on the cheeks and across the bridge of the nose, known as the butterfly rash. Hair loss and changes in the pigment, or color, of the skin are also symptoms of cutaneous lupus.

Certain prescription drugs can create a lupus-like disease, called drug-induced lupus. The drugs most commonly connected with drug-induced lupus are hydralazine (used to treat high blood pressure or hypertension), procainamide (used to treat irregular heart rhythms), and isoniazid (a drug used to treat tuberculosis). The lupus-like symptoms usually disappear within six months after the medications are stopped.

Neonatal lupus is a rare condition that affects babies of women who have lupus. At birth, the baby may have a skin rash, liver problems, or low blood cell counts, but all of these symptoms go away completely after several months with no lasting effects. A very small percentage of babies with neonatal lupus may also have a serious heart defect; however, most babies of mothers with lupus are entirely healthy.


There is no cure for lupus. Rheumatologists customize a treatment plan for each lupus patient because each case of lupus is different. Treating lupus takes a holistic approach that incorporates healthy lifestyle choices, taking prescribed medications, and communicating with your treatment team. Feeling overwhelmed? LFA ĖDC/MD/VA offers education, support, and assistance in navigating this complex disease.


The Lupus Foundation of America, DC / MD / VA chapter was formed in 2010, when the Lupus Foundation of Greater Washington and Lupus Mid Atlantic merged in order to offer more complete services to DC, Maryland and Virginia. The Lupus Foundation of Greater Washington was formed in 1974 and Lupus Mid Atlantic was formed in 1978 to help those affected by lupus. Our goal is to improve the quality of life of lupus patients through education, community outreach services, and hope for better treatment through research. With your donation you become a member of the LFA-DMV, joining the thousands of lupus patients, their families and friends, and the medical community across the country working towards the eradication of lupus. It is through the financial support of our members that we are able to provide these valuable services to the public. The National organization has nearly 300 chapters and support groups in 32 states.

The mission of The Lupus Foundation of America is to improve the diagnosis and treatment of lupus, support individuals and families affected by the disease, increase awareness of lupus among health professionals and the public, and find the causes and cure.

The Lupus Foundation of America energetically pursues its mission with five program objectives designed to:
  • Heighten public awareness of the causes and consequences of lupus.
  • Support individuals with lupus, their families and caregivers.
  • Provide direct financial support to researchers
  • Advocate increased public and private sector support for biomedical research on lupus.
  • Translate research findings into medically-sound information and programs for physicians and other healthcare professionals.
  • Help Files

    Special Thanks to:
    We Work For Health Logo