Is Lupus Contagious or Catchy?

Lupus Isn't Infectious and You Can't Catch It

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Question: Is lupus contagious?

No, lupus is not contagious. It cannot be passed from one person to another. Lupus is an autoimmune disease, the cause of which is still unknown. An autoimmune disease is characterized by a malfunction of the immune system - one in which the immune system cannot distinguish between the body's own cells and tissues and that of foreign matter, like viruses. Rather than simply producing antibodies to attack antigens (viruses, bacteria and similar foreign matter), the immune system creates auto-antibodies that attack the immune system itself.

Genetic and environmental factors, such as certain drugs and infections, may trigger the disease in those predisposed to lupus. And research continues with regard to genetics, as researchers have yet to pinpoint a specific gene or set of genes that cause the disease.

Here's some more information about lupus.

What Are the Risk Factors for Lupus?

There are 3 risk main risk factors for lupus.

First, sex is a risk factor. Specifically, lupus is most common in women.

Second, race is a risk factor, and this disease mostly affects people with darker skin like African Americans, Hispanic people and Asians.

Third, although lupus affects people of all ages, it mostly affects people between 15 and 40 years old.

What Are Some Potential Triggers for Lupus?

Lupus is a disease that presents with a variable clinical course. In other words, lupus waxes and wanes and occurs in bouts. Although the development of lupus is likely rooted in genetics, environmental factors can exacerbate or trigger this illness.

Here are some potential triggers for lupus:

  • infection
  • sunlight
  • medications (think antiseizure or blood pressure medications)

Medications can cause a certain type of lupus called drug-induced lupus. Of note, there are 4 types of lupus: systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), drug-induced lupus, cutaneous (discoid lupus) and neonatal lupus.

Of these different types of lupus, SLE is most common.

One good way to thwart a lupus trigger is to limit your exposure to sunlight and wear sun block.

What Organs or Parts of the Body Does Lupus Attack?

Depending on its type, lupus can affect various organ systems and body parts including the following:

  • kidneys
  • blood
  • skin
  • joints
  • brain
  • heart
  • lungs

How Is Lupus Treated?

Depending on signs, symptoms and progression of the disease, lupus can be treated in various ways.

Here are some medications used to control lupus symptoms:

  • NSAIDs, or pain killers like ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) or naproxen sodium (Aleve);
  • antimalarial drugs like hydroxychloroquine;
  • corticosteroids like prednisone (Plaquenil);
  • immunosuppressants like azathioprine (Imuran) or mycophenolate (CellCept).

It should be noted that, as with any medication, the above medications used to treat lupus have adverse effects. For example, immunosuppressants inhibit the immune system and can result in infection.


What is Lupus? Lupus Foundation of America. February 2008.

Lupus Causes. Lupus Foundation of America. February 2008.

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