The goal of Lupus Awareness Month is to promote understanding of the disorder and how it affects people.

Lupus is an autoimmune disorder. It occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks another part of your body, such as your skin or lungs.

Let’s explore what you need to know about lupus and how you can increase awareness of this condition.

There are many ways to get involved in Lupus Awareness Month. Initiatives from the Lupus Foundation of America include:

  • Spreading awareness: You can help spread lupus awareness by speaking with family and friends about lupus, sharing your personal experience with lupus on social media, and wearing purple.
  • Raising funds: You can rally your network to raise money for lupus research through a social media campaign or by hosting a virtual or in-person fundraising event.
  • Promoting change: You can reach out to local government officials to highlight the needs of people living with lupus, including making healthcare more accessible and affordable and providing funding for lupus research.

Important facts about lupus

There are a few types of lupus, but the most common is systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Here are some key facts about SLE, according to research from 2021:

  • Lupus affects about 5 in 100,000 people in the United States.
  • Although anyone can get lupus, it’s most common among people assigned female at birth (9 out of 100,000 people) and especially among Black people assigned female at birth (16 out of 100,000 people).
  • In 2018, about 14,000 people received a lupus diagnosis.
  • There’s no routine diagnostic test for lupus, and the wide range of possible symptoms can make it challenging to diagnose.
  • Rheumatologists are autoimmune disorder specialists who use symptoms, medical histories, physical exams, lab tests, and imaging tests to diagnose lupus.
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World Lupus Day is May 10. Lupus is still a relatively unknown and misunderstood disorder. According to a 2019 survey conducted by the Lupus Foundation of America, 63% of 1,241 respondents had never heard of lupus or knew nothing or very little about it.

The goal of World Lupus Day is to address the lack of awareness surrounding lupus symptoms, risk factors, diagnosis, and treatment.

Most of the activities for World Lupus Day are educational campaigns. You can participate by wearing purple and sharing informational materials provided by your local lupus nonprofit on social media or with your friends, family, or co-workers.

To find out more about activities happening in your region, get in touch with your local chapter of the Lupus Foundation of America.

Purple is the designated color for lupus awareness. This color may have been chosen because lupus can cause purple or red spots on your skin, a symptom known as purpura. In addition, some people notice livedo reticularis, a lattice-like pattern of purplish discoloration under the skin.

Lupus is a long-term autoimmune disorder that causes pain and inflammation. When you have lupus, your immune system recognizes otherwise healthy tissue as a threat and launches an attack.

In SLE, your immune system can target almost any part of your body. A lot of the time, though, it attacks your joints, skin, or organs such as your heart or kidneys.

Other types of lupus include drug-induced lupus and cutaneous lupus erythematosus, which affects your skin.

Lupus usually looks different from one person to the next. Symptoms can be limited to a specific region, or they can affect your entire body.

In addition, for many people living with lupus, symptoms flare up for a period of time and then disappear, sometimes for months or even years.

Signs and symptoms to look out for include:

  • muscle soreness
  • anemia
  • blood clots
  • chest pain
  • confusion
  • dry eyes
  • dry mouth
  • fatigue
  • fever
  • hair loss
  • headaches
  • lesions and ulcers
  • memory problems
  • joint pain
  • rashes
  • sensitivity to sun
  • recurrent miscarriage

Lupus is a chronic illness, which means it won’t go away. But many cases of lupus are mild and can be improved with timely diagnosis and treatment.

If you have lupus, you can take steps to manage and prevent symptoms, including developing a treatment plan with your doctor and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Support is available for people living with lupus. If you have lupus, you might qualify for financial assistance to help with your medical bills, prescriptions, or other basic needs. Here are some resources to get you started:

  • Disability benefits: If lupus is interfering with your ability to work, you might qualify for disability benefits. Contact the Social Security Administration to learn more.
  • Medical benefits: If you don’t have health insurance, you might qualify for a government assistance program such as Medicare or Medicaid.
  • Prescription assistance: Some drug manufacturers offer discounts for people who can’t afford their prescriptions. The Lupus Foundation of America provides a comprehensive list of prescription assistance programs and other sources of financial aid.
  • Medical bills: Charitable organizations such as RxAssist and Good Days may be able to help you cover the costs of lupus treatments.

Many people with lupus also seek help in the form of counseling, therapy, and support groups. To find a therapist in your area, try the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s online directory.

For a list of national- and state-run support groups for people who have lupus, check out this page from the Lupus Foundation of America.

May is dedicated to promoting awareness of lupus, an autoimmune disorder that affects millions of people in the United States and around the world. Lupus awareness is important because this disorder — including its signs, symptoms, and treatments — is still widely misunderstood.

You can participate in Lupus Awareness Month by wearing purple and sharing educational campaigns on social media. You can also try contacting a local lupus organization to find out whether any events are happening in your area.