Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes swelling (inflammation) and a variety of symptoms. Lupus affects everyone differently. Some people have mild symptoms, while others have more severe symptoms.
Symptoms appear in early adulthood, from adolescence to early 30s. People with lupus generally experience periods of flare-ups followed by periods of remission. That is why it is easy to remove the first symptoms.
Early symptoms are similar to those of other diseases, so the presence of these symptoms does not necessarily mean that you have lupus. Early symptoms may include:
Up to 90 percent of people with lupus have some degree of fatigue. Napping in the afternoon is beneficial for some people, but too much daytime napping can lead to insomnia at night. It can be difficult, but if you stay active and stick to your daily routine, you can keep your energy levels high.
If you’re living with fatigue that interferes with your daily life, talk to your doctor. Some causes of fatigue can be treated.
- Unexplained fever
One of the first symptoms of lupus is a low-grade fever for no apparent reason. It can range between 98.5˚F (36.9˚C) and 101˚F (38.3˚C), so you might not think to see a doctor. People with lupus may experience this type of fever frequently.
A low-grade fever can be a sign of inflammation, infection, or a soon-to-be-complicated illness. If you have frequent low-grade fevers, make an appointment with your doctor.
- Hair loss
Thinning hair is often one of the first symptoms of lupus. Hair loss is the result of skin and scalp inflammation. Some people with lupus have hair loss in clumps. In most cases, the hair gradually thins. Also, some people’s beards, eyebrows, eyelashes and other body hair are thinning. Lupus erythematosus causes the hair to become brittle, break easily, and look a little ragged, hence the name “wolf hair.”
Lupus treatment often results in new hair growth. But if your scalp is damaged, hair loss in those areas can be permanent.
- Skin rash or injury
One of the most obvious signs of lupus is a butterfly-shaped rash that appears on the bridge of the nose and on both cheeks. About 30 percent of people with lupus have this rash. It can happen suddenly or appear after exposure to sunlight. Sometimes the rash appears just before the outbreak.
Lupus can also cause non-itchy lesions on other parts of the body. In rare cases, urticaria can cause hives. Many people with lupus are sensitive to the sun or artificial light. Some have discolored fingers and toes.