Lupus Flare Prevention Tips

Preventing Lupus Flare

Lupus causes a rash on the skin.
Lupus causes a rash on the skin. Smith Collection/Getty Images

No one can say for certain that there’s any way to prevent a lupus flare, but the Lupus Foundation of America does provide a number of “healthy habits” that can help patients reduce the potential for triggering a flare.

We’ve taken those habits and gone one step further, by providing some suggestions on how to get into those habits and stay in those habits thus possibly increasing your chances of staving off a flare.

Take Your Medication as Prescribed

How can you remember to follow your prescription? The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute offers these suggestions:

  • Take your drugs at the same time every day, coinciding with something else you do regularly, like brushing your teeth.
  • Keep a chart or calendar to record and schedule when you take your medications. Use colored pens to track more than one type of medication.
  • Use a pillbox.
  • Use e-mail reminders to alert you to take your medication.
  • Remember to refill your prescriptions. Make a note on your calendar to order and pick up the next refill one week before your medicine runs out.

Keep Your Doctor's Appointments, Even If You're Feeling Fine

There’s a simple reason for doing this, and that is to keep lines of communication open and to catch any potential illness or complication in its earliest stages. That said if you’re feeling well, what should you communicate to your doctor or healthcare provider?

And how?

Here are some to-dos that will help you make the most of your time with your doctor:

  • Make a list of questions, symptoms and concerns
  • Have a friend or family member come with you to help you remember or to act as your patient advocate.
  • Use the time to find out who in your healthcare provider's office can assist you, and the best times to call.
  • Review your treatment plan and ask how the plan will help you improve your health. Find out what might happen if you don't follow the treatment plan.
  • Review your progress on your treatment plan.
  • If there are aspects of your treatment plan that seem to not work, share your concerns with your doctor.

Don't Take Sulfa Drugs (sulfonamides)

Sulfonamides are used to treat infections such as bronchitis and urinary tract infections. Some common sulfonamides are Acetazolamide, Celecoxib, and Xipamide.

Limit Your Exposure to Sunlight

This is called photosensitivity, and we have an article on what it is and ways to avoid sunlight. Basically, it is suspected that UV light causes skin cells to express particular proteins on their surface, attracting antibodies. The antibodies, in turn, attract white blood cells, which attack skin cells, which leads to inflammation. Apoptosis, or cell death, normally occurs at this point, but it is amplified in lupus patients, which increases inflammation.

Some basic tips:

  • Avoid the midday sun
  • Wear the correct clothing
  • Use sunscreens
  • Turn off other sources of UV light
  • Take your medicine as directed
  • Know what you’re taking
  • Watch your makeup (try to buy brands that are also UV protectors, and that are hypoallergenic).

    Reduce Your Risk of Infections

    Since lupus is an autoimmune disease, the risk of getting infections is greater for lupus patients. Here are some simple tips on how to reduce your risk of getting an infection:

    • Take care of yourself. Eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly and get plenty of rest.
    • Work and play safe. Consider your risk for infection based on where you work (hospital? clinic? daycare? vet?).
    • Pets provide many benefits to owners. To avoid infection from your pet, make sure your pet is up to date on all its shots and vaccinations to prevent disease. And always wash your hands after petting your pet, especially before you eat.
    • Avoid eating raw or undercooked eggs
    • Wash fruits and vegetables carefully before you eat them.
    • Wash your hands, cutting boards, counters and knives with soap and water.

    Don't Smoke

    This one is self-explanatory. And if you needed any more encouragement, consider that smoking is responsible for 87% of lung cancers in the United States. If you need help quitting, please read Quit Smoking 101.


    Flares and What Triggers, Lupus. Lupus Foundation of America. May 2008

    Tips to Help You Remember to Take Your Blood Pressure Drugs. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. May 2008

    Tips for Talking to Healthcare Professionals. American Heart Association. Sept 27, 2007

    How to Avoid Infections When You Have HIV. May 2008