Lupus appears in one of two forms: (1) Discoid lupus erythematosus (lupus vulgaris), which can be chronic but is less severe, may cause a red, scaly rash, usually on the face; (2) Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus) is the most common and severe form of lupus.
Nearly all people with lupus experience changes in disease activity. At times, the disease may flare; at other times, there may be no evidence of lupus at all (remission). Fever, weight loss and fatigue may be among the first signs of the illness. A skin rash may develop on the face, neck or arms, especially after exposure to the sun. This rash may involve the nose and cheeks and appear as a butterfly-shaped rash. Ulcers, usually painless, can occur in the mouth or nose. Painful swelling of the joints and prolonged stiffness in the morning can occur. Inflammation of the surface of some organs (serositis) such as the heart and lungs can cause painful breathing or shortness of breath. The kidneys can be affected without producing symptoms, although swelling (oedema) of the legs can occur. Lupus affecting the kidneys may cause protein and blood in the urine and high blood pressure. People with lupus may experience depression or difficulty in concentrating, either due to the disease itself or as a reaction to living with a chronic disease. Rarely, seizures can occur.
There are an estimated 500,000 to 1.5 million people in the USA with lupus. In Korea it is estimated that there are about 150,000 women and men suffering from the disease. However, there are only 100,000 that have been recognized/diagnosed. Other 50 thousand are either not treated or not diagnosed.