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Lupus erythematosus is an autoimmune disease. The immune system falsely views the body's own cell structures as foreign and attacks them. Depending on the affected organs, there are three main types of lupus erythematosus. The disease occurs especially in young adulthood. Women are much more likely to develop lupus erythematosus than men, especially in younger adulthood.
Lupus erythematosus is usually relapsing-type. The inflammatory changes primarily affect the skin. But there are also forms in which other organs are involved. On this basis, physicians distinguish essentially three major forms of the disease. In addition, there are some other, rarer forms of lupus, which are usually limited to the skin, for example, lupus erythematosus tumidus.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a form of the autoimmune chronic inflammatory disease lupus erythematosus. While other lupus forms are more or less skin related, systemic lupus erythematosus also affects internal organs. The disease runs in spurts and mostly chronic. Systemic lupus erythematosus belongs to the group of inflammatory rheumatic diseases, more specifically to the connective tissue diseases (collagenoses).
What causes systemic lupus erythematosus exactly is unclear. However, several factors seem to be involved, especially genetic changes. External factors that stress or stimulate the immune system may eventually trigger systemic lupus erythematosus; even an existing disease surge can get worse.
Systemic lupus erythematosus is usually chronic-relapsing-type. Months or years can pass between successive episodes of disease. In many patients, the relapses also become more rare and weaker over time - with increasing age, systemic lupus erythematosus can be mitigated.
Systemic lupus erythematosus can not be treated causally - neither in children nor in adults. Only symptomatic therapy is possible, ie a treatment of the disease symptoms. The individual therapy plan depends on which organs are affected and how active the illness is.