Because lupus disease is one of the factors that lead to lupus hair loss, it is very important to know what exactly is this disease and how does it cause hair to fall. In this article I’m going to talk about everything related to this disease including what causes lupus, what are the common a non common lupus symptoms and the lupus treatments that are available for patients.
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal, healthy tissue. It can damage any part of the body (skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body). Chronic means that the signs and symptoms tend to last longer than six weeks and often for many years. There are several types of lupus, the most common being systemic lupus erythematous (SLE). It can be mild causing fatigue, joint pain, and skin rashes; or severe, affecting major organs including kidneys.
Under normal function, the immune system makes proteins called antibodies in order to protect and fight against antigens such as viruses and bacteria that invade out system. With lupus, something goes wrong with the immune system that makes it unable to differentiate between antigens and healthy tissue. This leads the immune system to create autoantibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissues along with these antigens . This disorder causes swelling, pain, and tissue damage and can affect any part of the body; skin, joints, brain, lungs, kidneys, blood vessels and other internal organs. Lupus treatments in these cases are highly required and under the supervision of the rheumatologist.
Lupus causes and symptoms
Lupus remains one of medicine’s biggest mysteries. Medical researchers don’t fully understand what triggers this autoimmune disease. But some experts indicate that lupus develops in response to a combination of factors from both inside and outside of the human body including:
Hormones are chemical substances produced in the body that control and regulate the activity of certain cells or organs. Although both men and women produce estrogen, the production of the hormone is greater in women. The female body generates and uses larger quantities of estrogen, while the male body relies on androgens. Estrogen is an immunoenhancing” hormone, which means that women have stronger immune systems than men. That’s why women are 9 times more likely than men to develop lupus.
Research has found that women have lupus symptom flare-ups just before menstrual periods and during pregnancy when estrogen production is at its highest levels. This may suggest that estrogen could regulate the severity of lupus. However, women taking estrogen in the form of birth control pills or as postmenopausal therapy have shown no increase in disease activity.
Lupus is more prevalent among some families and certain genes have been identified as contributing to the development of lupus. However, these genetic associations alone are not conclusive for causing the disease. For example, Identical twins may be raised in the exact same way, same environment and feature the same inherited attributes, but only one of them may develop lupus. Ethnic groups such as people of African, Asian, Hispanic, Native American, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Island descent have a greater risk of developing lupus.
According to the Lupus disease Foundation of America, researchers consider that environmental contributors such as chemicals or viruses may lead to lupus. These environmental contributors are difficult to isolate, but researchers relate lupus to a variety of toxins, such as cigarette smoke, silica, and mercury.
Certain drugs can cause lupus-like syndrome and exposure to ultraviolet light and stress are known to aggravate lupus symptoms, but none of these factors have been identified as direct causes of the disease. Infectious disease agents such as the Epstein-Barr Virus , herpes, and cytomegalovirus can also lead to lupus.
Lupus symptoms vary widely, and they come and go. This diseases may affects everyone differently, however, certain signs and symptoms are common.
- Pain or swelling in joints
- Skin rashes ( like the butterfly-shaped rash across the cheeks and nose)
- Chest pain upon deep breathing
- Unusual hair loss
- Pale or purple fingers or toes from cold or stress
- Swelling (edema) in a leg or around the eyes
- Swollen glands.
- Weight Changes (you can gain or lose weight)
- Osteoporosis (bone thinning)
Complications of lupus
The vast majority of people diagnosed with lupus disease will have a normal or near-normal life expectancy. However, some people are at risk of life-threatening complications such as a heart attack or stroke as a result of damage to internal organs and tissues.
Lupus is a prototypical autoimmune disease with a wide range of clinical manifestations such as:
- Oral ulcers
- Hair loss
- Kidney problems
- Blood cell abnormalities
Additional facts about lupus
- Lupus disease is not contagious, not even through sexual contact.
- Lupus is not like or related to cancer. However, some treatments for lupus may include immunosuppressant drugs that are also part of the chemotherapy.
- This disease is not like or related to HIV (Human Immune Deficiency Virus) or AIDS.
- Lupus can range from mild to life-threatening and should always be treated by a doctor using good medical care.
- Research estimates that at least 1.5 million Americans have lupus disease. The actual number may be higher; however, there have been no large-scale studies to show the actual number of people in the U.S. living with lupus disease.
- More than 16,000 new cases of lupus disease are reported annually across the USA.
You may need specialist doctors to treat the many symptoms of lupus disease. Once the rheumatologist diagnoses the patinent condition, he/she will develop a treatment plan based on the patient’s age, sex, health, symptoms and lifestyle. Lupus treatments are tailored to the individual’s needs and may change over time. In developing a treatment plan, the doctor will aim to; Prevent flares, Treat flares when they occur and Reduce organ damage and other problems.
There are different medications that can help relieve many of the symptoms and reduce the chances of organ damage. These medications include:
- BLyS-specific inhibitors
- Hormonal therapies such as dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)
- Intravenous immunoglobulin (proteins derived from human blood).
However, patients should not take these medicine without the supervision of a rheumatologist.
Alternative lupus treatments
In addition to medications and other medical care from doctors, a large and growing number of people turn to other healing practices to try to improve their health. These diverse therapies include:
Homeopathy, chiropractic, traditional Chinese medicine (acupuncture and Tai Chi), Ayurveda, naturopathy, massage therapy, meditation, biofeedback and herbs. Most alternative and complementary practices, however, have not been through the rigorous scientific testing and clinical research that all conventional medicines undergo. So it is difficult to know their effectiveness in treating lupus.
Here is Doctor Josh Axe speaking in details about lupus treatments, foods and ways to help deal with Lupus:
Lupus hair loss
Lupus hair loss occurs because the immune system destroys hair follicles along with other cells in the
body. it’s a common side effect of lupus and the medications used for treatment. It usually starts with hair thinning or falling out in clumps or in patches. Although a few people with lupus will lose clumps of hair, the disease can also cause gradual thinning of the hair on the scalp. It is also possible to notice loss of hair of the eyelashes, eyebrows, beard or body. However, losing hair due to lupus and its treatments is reversible once the condition is under control.
Dr Howard R.Smith speaks about how lupus hair loss occurs in patients with lupus:
Ideas and tips for lupus hair loss
Losing hair can be scary, but it’s usually treatable. It may take a while for hair to grow back, but eventually it usually does unless it’s due to skin lupus that leads to a discoid rash. Discoid rash can scar hair follicles
and cause lasting hair loss. However, this is a rare type of lupus hair loss. When seeking a solution for your lupus hair loss, it is important not to experiment with over-the-counter medications, like Rogaine, without your doctor’s approval. While dealing with lupus it is important to take care of your hair as much as possible to reduce the shedding. Here are some simple steps to follow while dealing with lupus hair loss:
- Refresh your hair style
- Consider using some homemade recipes that can help stimulate hair follicles. Although it won’t help regrow new hair as the follicles are damaged but will help maintain the existing hair.
- Purchase natural and organic shampoos, conditioners and serum that will nourish you hair follicles.
- If you still have some healthy hair and are just missing some patches on the sides, consider hair extensions.
- If you suffer from extreme lupus hair loss, try using a wig. These days wigs are so well-made that most people can’t tell you’re wearing one.
If you have lupus disease and are losing hair, do NOT experiment with over-the-counter hair loss treatments. Talk to your doctor about treatment options.