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Lupus Erythematosus (DLE) – Hair Loss

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What is the DLE?

Discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE) is an autoimmune and chronic disease that predominantly affects young people, especially women.  It affects tissues and organs, causing an immune response against the tissues themselves. It affects the skin, joints, internal organs, lungs and brain.

The most common form of lupus is systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

What causes  of lupus erythematosus?

Doctors have not yet found the causes that lead to the development of this disease. In some cases there is a genetic predisposition. In addition, environmental factors, drugs, infections and/or hormones are thought to play a role in the development of lupus.

Lupus may coexist with other autoimmune diseases such as Sjögren’s syndrome, haemolytic anaemia, thyroiditis and idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP).

What are the symptoms of the disease?

The symptoms of lupus are many and varied, which makes it difficult for the responsible doctor to diagnose the disease.

Some of the symptoms include the following:

  • Pain in the joints
  • Butterfly rash: a rash resembling a butterfly-shaped burn that spreads over the entire surface of the face.
  • Nail changes: nails break easily or may even fall off. They may also become discoloured and/or have red or blue spots at the base.
  • Fever and fatigue
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Hair loss: thinning and loss of hair in large areas of the head. Hair becomes thinner. Hair loss is frequent and sometimes severe. However, once the condition has stabilised, the hair usually grows back if scarring has not already occurred in these areas.
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon: the fingers and toes may start to hurt, become numb and sensitive to low temperatures or emotional stress.
  • Anemia
  • Kidney problems
  • Headache

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How is the disease diagnosed?

As mentioned above, the process of diagnosing lupus can be difficult. This particular disease often follows a different course per person. There is no specific test that directly diagnoses lupus, however a urine test and a blood test for antinuclear antibodies (ANA) can provide the clues a doctor needs. Other important tests that may be requested include checking kidney function and clotting time. Finally, taking a biopsy of tissue from a specific site, such as the skin or kidneys, can sometimes help the diagnosis.

What is the treatment for lupus?

Unfortunately, so far no cure has been found for the disease, only for managing its symptoms. Conservative treatment involves specific medication.

Each patient has an individualised treatment plan that depends on the form of the disease and the parts of the body affected. The recommended treatment is likely to be changed or adjusted while the symptoms are in flare-ups or subsiding.

Useful tips for living with lupus

In order to reduce lupus flare-ups it is advisable to follow the following tips:

  • Avoiding and protecting yourself from the sun
  • Avoid smoking
  • Avoid exposure to sunlight and avoid smoking, avoid sunburn and avoid smoking
  • Learn to manage stress
  • Get enough rest

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