Risk Factors for Developing Lupus Erythematosus

Patients suffering from lupus may experience fatigue, inflammation, pain, tissue damage and swelling as a result. Some may also develop kidney, heart, lung or nervous system problems. While the exact cause of lupus is not fully understood, certain risk factors may exist that, if nothing else, will make patients more aware of their chances of developing lupus so they may be proactive in recognizing the disease early.

Gender and Age

Lupus may affect both men and women. While it is not fully understood why, more women than men are diagnosed with lupus. Individuals of all ages from infants to older adults may be affected by lupus. The condition is most commonly diagnosed in people between their teen years and their forties.

The Sun

Exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays may trigger lupus flare ups. Avoid the sun as much as possible if you have lupus. If you cannot avoid going outdoors, wear long sleeves and long pants to reduce sun exposure. A hat may also help to reduce sun exposure on the face and neck.


Long-term use of some prescription drugs may cause drug-induced lupus. Most patients whose lupus is triggered by medication will have been on the medication for several years. Even then, only a small percentage of those taking the mediation will develop lupus. Medications that may trigger lupus include antipsychotic chlorpromazine, high blood pressure medications (hydralazine), tuberculosis medication and certain heart medications.

Epstein-Barr Virus

Epstein-Barr virus may lead to a greater risk of developing lupus. Most people have been infected with the virus, but after the infection subsides, the virus is dormant in the cells of the immune system. Recurrent infections of Epstein-Barr virus may increase the risk of lupus for reasons that are not fully understood.

Smoking and Certain Chemicals

Studies indicate that smoking may put individuals at a greater risk of lupus. Patients exposed to mercury or silica on a regular basis may also be at a greater risk of lupus. Patients who are at risk for lupus should see a doctor to discuss their chances of developing lupus. Some physicians may perform blood tests to check for the presence of certain proteins called antinuclear antibodies, as this may be a sign of lupus.

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