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Lupus; Lifestyle Tips.

1. Thinking pink or blue? Plan your pregnancy

Don't stop using birth control until you've been in remission and haven't taken medications for at least six months. You'll be less likely to flare during pregnancy, and have a better chance of delivering a healthy baby. Identify an obstetrician with previous experience in high-risk pregnancy and lupus; a pediatrician experienced in caring for newborns of lupus pregnancies; and a hospital with the resources for specialized medical care during and after delivery, just in case. Plan for help at home after delivery, in case you have a postpartum flare and need the extra support.

Sources: NIAMS Pregnancy for women with lupus,; NIAMS Patient Information Sheet #11 Pregnancy and Lupus [pdf file],; Lupus Foundation of America, Inc., Michael D. Lockshin, MD, Pregnancy and Lupus,

2. Answer your questions about hair loss

Generalized hair loss due to systemic lupus is usually temporary and grows back. A severe flare may cause hair to be brittle and break off, but hair should grow normally after the flare subsides. If your hair loss occurs in patches on the scalp, find out whether advanced scarring is present: if so, hair is unlikely to grow back, but if not, it may regrow. Medication may also cause hair loss, but after the medication is stopped, the hair generally returns. Check with your health care professional to understand which situation is most likely to apply to you.

Sources: Lupus Foundation of America,; and; NIAMS

3. Cope with permanent hair loss

Look for "alopecia" support sites: you'll find many others dealing with hair loss due to lupus or other diseases. Consider your options: they include changing your haircut, wigs, hats, scarves, turbans, hair replacement, or not bothering to conceal it at all. If you choose a wig, look for good quality and a color that suits your skin tone. A different hairstyle can conceal patches of hair loss, and a shorter cut can make thinning hair look fuller. Choose a style that flatters your facial shape, whether it's the same as always or rounder due to corticosteroid treatment.

Sources: Lupus Foundation of Colorado,; Lupus Foundation of Greater Washington,;; and

4. Care for your skin

Apply moisturizer every day. To avoid the effects of sunlight as a trigger for flares or simply as source of long-term damage to skin, use sunscreen daily, through all seasons. Ask at the cosmetics counter for facial and body moisturizers with sunscreen SPF 15 or more - many product lines have them. Use hypoallergenic makeup, to minimize your chances of allergic dermatitis. Blend darker shades with your usual foundation to add contours and minimize "moon face" from steroid treatment. If you have skin lesions or scars that bother you, conceal them with makeup designed for the purpose.

Sources: Lupus Foundation of Greater Washington,; Lupus Foundation of Colorado,; Covermark cosmetic camouflage,

5. Protect yourself from sunlight

Though not all lupus patients experience sunlight as a trigger for flares, many do. Remember that windows don't block the ultraviolet (UV) light in sunlight, meaning that you can be exposed even when indoors or in a car or train, if you are near windows allowing light in. Fluorescent lights are also a source of UV light, but it may be possible to install filters. Use sunscreen year round; look for SPF 15 or higher and protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Wear wide-brimmed hats and protective clothing with a tight weave, to block out sunlight.

Sources: Sandra Hampson, The Lupus Web Site,, []; Lupus Foundation of Greater Washington,; NIAMS; Lupus Foundation of America; Sun Precautions sun protective clothing,; Medlineplus Drug Information [sunscreens],

"Lupus erythematosus." National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Published 1/99. Accessed Oct. 1999.

"Handout on Health: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus." National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Accessed Oct. 1999.

"Patient Information Sheet #1: Living With Lupus." National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Accessed Oct. 1999.

"Medications." Lupus Foundation of America. Accessed Oct. 1999.

"Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs." Lupus Foundation of America. Accessed Oct. 1999.

"What Black Women Should Know About Lupus." NIH Publication No. 93-3219. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Published 6/94. Accessed Oct. 1999.

Editorial Staff of the National Women's Health Resource Center 2000/03/01 2001/12/19 Systemic lupus erythematosus is classified as an autoimmune disorder because it is a disease in which the body's immune system -- which normally fights invaders like bacteria and viruses -- attacks healthy tissue. Antinuclear antibody test,Anti-Smith,Autoantibodies,Autoimmune disease,Discoid lupus erythematosus,Drug-induced systemic lupus erythematosus,Lupus,Systemic lupus erythematosus
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Title Annotation:living with systemic lupus erythematosus
Publication:NWHRC Health Center - Lupus
Article Type:Topic Overview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 19, 2001
Next Article:Lupus; Overview.

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