Lupus | Symptoms


How does lupus affect my body?

Lupus can affect many parts of the body, including your joints, skin, kidneys, heart and lungs. If you have lupus, your symptoms can develop quickly or slowly. Symptoms can also come and go, and they can be mild or severe.

What are the symptoms of lupus?

Lupus can look like different diseases in different people. Not everyone who has lupus has the same symptoms. Common symptoms of lupus may include:

  • Red rashes, often on the face and in the shape of a butterfly (called a malar rash)
  • Fever
  • Joint pain or swelling
  • Muscle pain
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Chest pain with deep breathing
  • Sensitivity to the sun or light
  • Low blood count
  • Trouble thinking, and/or memory problems
  • Hair loss (alopecia)
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Kidney problems

Less common symptoms include:

  • Swollen glands
  • Blood clots
  • Pale or blue fingers or toes from cold or stress (Raynaud’s Disease)
  • Unexplained seizures
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Dry eyes
  • Severe headache
  • Dizziness
  • Stroke
  • Depression
  • "Seeing things" (hallucinations)
  • Repeated miscarriages

What are the symptoms of lupus in children?

Children can have all the same symptoms of lupus that adults have, but they are more likely to have the following symptoms:

  • A butterfly-shaped red rash (called a malar rash) over the bridge of the nose and the cheeks.
  • Low red blood cell count (anemia)
  • Low white blood cell count (leukocytopenia)
  • More severe brain or kidney problems

What is a flare?

Symptoms of lupus can come and go, and often disappear completely for a time. When symptoms appear or get worse, it’s called a “flare.” You may have swollen joints and muscle pain one week and then no symptoms at all the next week.

Written by editorial staff.

American Academy of Family Physicians

Created: 04/10