Debunking 5 Myths About Lupus

Debunking 5 Myths About Lupus

Myths thrive when a disease is complex, relatively rare, and hard to identify or understand — a description that perfectly fits lupus. Lupus can affect any body part, resulting in diverse symptoms that could arise from many possible health conditions.

Debunking the myths surrounding lupus nurtures understanding, compassion, and acceptance for people with lupus, a step that fosters their long-term health by reducing stress.

Behnam Khaleghi, MD, and our Pacific Rheumatology Medical Center team specialize in lupus, offering today’s most advanced treatments and nutritional guidance to support health and well-being. 

As we work closely with each patient, we learn about their challenges, including misperceptions about the disease and how it impacts their lives. We hope to help by debunking five of the most common myths about lupus.

Myth #1: Lupus is a skin disease

Fact: It’s easy to believe lupus is a skin disease because 80% of people with the disease develop a rash.

Lupus uniquely causes a butterfly rash across the face. Patients may also have disc-shaped lesions (often on their face and scalp) or a rash resembling the many generic-looking rashes that erupt for numerous reasons.

However, lupus is not a skin disease. It’s an inflammatory autoimmune condition which occurs when your immune system attacks healthy tissues. 

In people with lupus, the immune system can attack any part of their body, including the skin, joints, and organs like the heart, kidneys (lupus nephritis), lungs, and blood vessels (vasculitis). As a result, lupus causes a nearly baffling array of possible symptoms, including:

While today’s advanced biologic treatments help control lupus, the disease can lead to serious health concerns, including coronary heart disease (clogged arteries) and kidney failure.

Myth #2: Lupus is contagious

Fact: Over the years, people have mistakenly associated lupus with cancer, HIV, and contagious diseases. None are true, but of the three, the most challenging myth for people with the disease is that lupus is contagious. Believing the disease spreads isolates people with lupus, adding to the emotional toll they already face as a result of lupus.

Viruses, bacteria, and fungi cause contagious diseases. These microorganisms easily spread to others through sneezing, coughing, and direct contact. A contagious infection doesn’t cause lupus, and that means the disease can’t spread.

Myth #3: Lupus doesn’t affect men

Fact: It’s true that lupus primarily affects women aged 15 to 44, but don’t be misled by that fact. One in ten lupus patients are men. Men generally have the same symptoms, but the disease appears later in life, usually around age 40. If men develop advanced conditions like lupus nephritis, their illness is often more severe compared to women.

Myth #4: Lupus is curable

Fact: Lupus symptoms come and go, going into remission for a time only to flare up again in response to a trigger like sunlight, viral infections, stress, and exhaustion.

With expert care, treatment can control your symptoms, stop your immune system from attacking, and protect your organs from ongoing damage. And some people may go into long-lasting remission. But there’s currently no cure for lupus.

Myth #5: Lupus prevents pregnancy

Fact: Since lupus affects women of childbearing age, it’s reasonable to believe they may need to give up on having a baby — but that’s a myth.

Women with lupus can have healthy pregnancies and babies. However, they need to plan ahead and take precautions that women without lupus don’t need to worry about. For example, you may need to temporarily change your medications and plan to get pregnant while your symptoms are minimally active or in remission.

Behnam Khaleghi, MD, at Pacific Rheumatology Medical Center is here to help if you have questions, are worried about symptoms, or have lupus and need exceptional care. Call the office today or use the online booking feature to request an appointment.

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