Known as a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the body’s organs, Lupus presents as an autoimmune reaction. In a nutshell, it causes one’s own antibodies to attack the body. When it happens, your skin, ventricular system, joints and tissue may become inflamed.

This disease is more common than you’d think – it affects around 1 in every 1000 people. The chance of you knowing someone that has Lupus is rather high, even if you are not aware of the condition.

Mopani Pharmacy had a chat with Corné Cilliers, the Responsible Pharmacist at our Crossing Centre store, on how to manage this disease.

The name – Lupus


“Patients suffering from Lupus often develop a rash in the shape of a butterfly on the nose and cheeks. This gives them a wolf-like appearance. That is why the illness was named Lupus, which means wolf,” Corné explained.

Who is at risk?

Of all known cases, about 90% of them are women. Women of African and Asian decent appear to be more at risk than others, according to the The Disorders, a volume of medical articles.

This disease can appear at any age, but more often appear in teens and young adults.

Types of Lupus

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)  can be mild or severe, and affects all parts of the body. Symptoms include swelling and pain in fingers and joints, acute fever, the red wolf-like rash, scaling and lesions across the body, with possible mouth sores.

Around half of the patients with SLE develop inflammation in their kidneys, brain, spleen, lungs and heart. This can cause bleeding, and infection.

“Once the central nervous system is involved, patients may experience seizures, amnesia, psychosis and deep depression,” Corné explained.

Discoid Lupus Erythematosus (DLE) is less serious and mostly affects the skin.

“Patients may experience the characteristic rash, with lesions elsewhere on the body – usually the ears or scalp. They may loop like pimples, as they are soft, yellowish lumps. You should not pick at them! This will definitely cause scarring. If it is on your scalp, it may result in permanent bald patches,” the pharmacist warned.

Although the disease can be managed, both types will present with flare-ups and times of remission.



There are many causes to the disease – anything can trigger it. For those predisposed to the illness, a trigger could be pregnancy, child labour, infections, stress, fatigue, sun-exposure, or medication.

“Medication-induced cases can clear up once the use of that medicine is stopped. However, some patients need to make use of certain chronic medicines for other life-threatening conditions. In cases where alternative medicine is not an option, patients, their doctors and their pharmacists will have to weigh their options and decide on a treatment plan with the lowest negative outcome,” said Corné.


“Calcium, magnesium, L-Cysteine, L-Methionine and L-Lysine supplements are highly recommended for Lupus patients”, she said.

This is to aid in strengthening your bones and joints and protecting your skin and mouth against viruses and infections that cause sores, rashes and lesions.

“Furthermore, omega 3, vitamin C, zinc and collagen supplements are very helpful to help your skin heal from the side effects of this disease.”

Overall management


A diet low in fat, salt and animal proteins will be beneficial when managing your Lupus.  “If you are going to have animal protein, try to have fish as often as possible as they are a great source of omega fatty acids. Lots of fresh fruits and veggies are always a good addition” Corné recommends.

Some medication like oral contraceptives and certain blood pressure medicines are known to cause flare-ups. You should discuss this with your doctor and pharmacist to see if any alternatives are available.

According to The Disorders, around 10% of all Lupus cases are caused by medication.

A test for possible allergies from medication or food, as well as other known allergens like pollen or dust can be helpful to figure out possible triggers.

“Patients with this condition should take care of themselves, as you would with any autoimmune disease. They need lots of rest and moderate exercise to remain healthy. They should also avoid large groups or sick individuals as they are more likely to get seriously ill from something minor.”

Common treatment plans for Lupus will include cortisone treatments, anti-inflammatory medications, and even anti-malarial medicine or adrenal hormone supplements. Each case is different, and will need a specified treatment.


Many who suffer from Lupus, may also have Raynaud’s disease. Raynaud’s phenomenon is known to affect your blood circulation, causing pins and needles, coldness of your extremities and often, pain.

A common misdiagnosis of syphilis is often made, as Lupus can cause a false positive in blood tests.


You may very well know someone with this illness, if you don’t have it yourself. It is often a mother or grandmother, suffering in silence. In these cases, something as simple as a cooked meal, offering to pick up the children from school, or taking them to extramural activities will mean the world to them, as they are unable to be in direct sunlight during a flare up. This is often an exhausting disease to live with. The rashes are unsightly; they often cause patients to become self-conscious. Those living with the disease may become reclusive and depressed. Offering a fun, safe, social activity will help to lift their spirits immensely.


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