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Either of two inflammatory autoimmune diseases, both more common in women. In the discoid type, a skin disease, red patches with grayish brown scales appear on the upper cheeks and nose (often in a butterfly pattern), scalp, lips, and/or inner cheeks. Sunlight worsens it. Antimalarial drugs may help. The second type, systemic (disseminated) lupus erythematosus (SLE), may affect any organ or structure, especially the skin (with marks like those of the discoid type), kidneys, heart, nervous system, serous (moisture-forming) membranes (e.g., in synovial joints or lining the abdomen), and lymph nodes, with acute episodes and remissions. Symptoms vary widely. Kidney and central-nervous-system involvement can be life-threatening. Treatment includes pain relief, control of inflammation, and trying to limit damage to vital organs.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on lupus erythematosus, visit Britannica.com.