Is Lupus Contagious?

Reviewed on 2/24/2021

What is lupus?

Lupus is an autoimmune disease characterized by symptoms and signs like rash, joint pain, and fever.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease characterized by symptoms and signs like rash, joint pain, and fever.

Lupus is a general term that refers to any of the various chronic inflammatory diseases that are marked by inflammation of the skin and are caused by autoimmunity. Classic lupus is also termed systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and typically initially appears as a rash accompanied by joint pain and fever. There are many subclasses of lupus.

Is lupus contagious?

Lupus is not contagious. Lupus cannot be transferred from one person to another by touching the skin lesions or by physical contact. The specific cause of lupus is not known, but many genetic predispositions (HLA types, regulatory genes) and gene-environment interactions (UV exposure, the immune system's response to microbes and/or drugs) have been identified that predispose individuals to develop this autoimmune disease.

How will someone know if he or she has lupus?

If a person has an onset of joint pain, fever, and a rash, lupus is considered as a possible cause. If the person is pregnant or if there is a family history of lupus or any autoimmune disease, the diagnosis of SLE becomes more likely. However the American College of Rheumatology has developed criteria that can be helpful in diagnosing the systemic form of lupus (SLE). There are 11 diagnostic basic criteria. When an individual has at least four of these criterions, they are likely to have systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Briefly, the following is a list of the 11 criteria:

The diagnosis is usually made by a medical caregiver skilled in the diagnosis of lupus (such as rheumatologists or dermatologists).

Can lupus spread?

Lupus does not spread from one individual to another. However, in an individual, the manifestations of the disease and their severity may increase in intensity and location over time.

Is there a cure for lupus?

There is no cure for lupus. Fortunately, there are many different drugs that can be used to reduce symptoms and control the disease. Treatments are individualized usually by the specialist, such as a rheumatologist for joint and internal organ problems, dermatologist for skin problems and/or other specialists depending upon what organ system is affected.

When should someone seek medical care for lupus?

If a person suspects that they may have risk factors and some symptoms (see criteria above) of SLE, the individual should seek medical care quickly. The earlier the person is diagnosed and begins treatment, the better the outcome for the patient. Early intervention that reduces lupus inflammation helps protect body organs.


Lupus Symptoms, Rash, and Treatment See Slideshow

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Bartels, Christie M. "Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)." Mar. 18, 2020. <>.

"Treating Lupus." July 23, 2021. <>.

"Understanding Lupus." <>.

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