Lupus - Symptoms 

Symptoms of lupus 

Lupus in children

Find out how lupus (an autoimmune condition) affects children. In this video, Eve's story describes how she was diagnosed with lupus at the age of 17.

Media last reviewed: 13/04/2014

Next review due: 13/04/2016

Symptoms of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) can vary widely from person to person. Some people may only experience a few mild symptoms, whereas others may be more severely affected.

Even if you usually have mild symptoms, SLE can "flare-up", with symptoms becoming more severe or new symptoms developing.

Main symptoms

The three main symptoms of SLE are fatigue, joint pain and rashes.


Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of SLE. You may feel very tired even though you get plenty of sleep. Carrying out everyday tasks, such as housework or office work, can leave you feeling exhausted.

Many people with SLE find that fatigue is the most distressing and disruptive aspect of SLE because it has a negative impact on their work and social life.

Joint pain

If you have SLE, you are likely to experience joint pain in your hands and feet. You may find the pain changes from one set of joints to another quite quickly, and is usually worse in the morning.

Unlike some other conditions that affect the joints, SLE is unlikely to cause your joints to become permanently damaged or deformed.


Many people with SLE develop rashes on their skin – most commonly on the face, wrists and hands. A rash over the cheeks and the bridge of the nose is particularly common and is known as a "butterfly rash" or "malar rash".

Rashes caused by SLE may get better after a few days or weeks, but can last longer or even be permanent.

Rashes caused by SLE can sometimes be itchy or painful, and they may get worse if they are exposed to sunlight. This is known as "photosensitivity".

Other symptoms

SLE can also cause a wide range of symptoms. However, you're unlikely to have all of the symptoms listed below, and many people with the condition will only experience the main symptoms.

Other features of SLE may include:

When to seek medical advice

You should see your GP if you have persistent or troublesome symptoms that you think could be caused by SLE.

While it is likely that your symptoms are being caused by a more common condition, it is important to see a doctor for a diagnosis.

Read more about diagnosing lupus.

Page last reviewed: 07/09/2014

Next review due: 07/09/2016


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The 1 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Mrsflo1 said on 13 October 2014

I'm on month 3 now of trying to get a diagnosis and can honestly say that so far my doctors have been really good. I went to the doctors in July, 8 months after giving birth to my daughter, with severe joint pains, fatigue and stomach pains that I just couldn't seem to shake. I felt like I was constantly coming down with an illness that never came out - the only way I could describe it was just really washed out and not right. My doctor looked back over my medical history and saw several markers in my history that made him want to question further. He linked the rash on my face (i've had this for years, had been previously told by another doctor it was rosacea), constant swollen lymph glands, hair loss and hypertension to possible lupus and arranged an appointment at the hospital with a specialist. The specialist examined me all over and explained that feeling like this isn't all just part of having a baby like I had thought, and that the recurrent clusters of mouth ulcers, rashes, ridiculously frequent urination and sensitivity to sunlight all might actually be markers of lupus. I am currently awaiting my ANA bloods to come back but have been told that even if these come back negative I may still have the disease. I am just to fed up of feeling poorly and hope that some treatment can be sorted soon. I would strongly urge anyone who feels like I did to not feel avoid seeking help because you feel silly and keep putting it off like I did - but go to your doctors as soon as possible as it is a long road to diagnosis.

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Why am I tired all the time?

Feeling exhausted is so common that it has its own acronym, TATT, which stands for 'tired all the time'

Joint pain

Joint pain is a very common problem with many possible causes - but it's usually a result of injury or arthritis...

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