General: There is currently no cure for lupus. Instead, treatment focuses on alleviating the symptoms of the disease. Patients who have mild symptoms may not need any treatment, or they may require intermittent anti-inflammatory medications. Individuals who have serious cases of lupus, that involve internal organ damage, may require high doses of corticosteroids along with other medications that suppress the body's immune system. Drug-induced lupus resolves once the offending medication is discontinued.
Corticosteroids: Corticosteroids like methylprednisolone (Adlone®, Medrol®, Solu-Medrol® or Depopred®) and prednisone (Deltasone®, Orasone® or Meticorten®) have been used to suppress the body's immune system and decrease inflammation in patients who have severe lupus.
Immunosuppressants: Immunosuppressants like methotrexate (Folex PFS® or Rheumatrex®), cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan®), or azathioprine (Imuran®) have been used to suppress the body's immune system.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil® or Motrin®) have been used to decrease mild to moderate inflammation and pain associated with lupus.
Antimalarial drugs: The mechanism of action of antimalarial agents in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) remains unknown. While they do not cause general immunosuppression, antimalarial agents like hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil®) and chloroquine (Aralen® Hydrochloride or Aralen® Phosphate) have been shown to effectively treat lupus skin rashes and joint or muscle pain. In addition, hydroxychloroquine has been shown to decrease the frequency of flares in patients with SLE.
Sunscreen: Patients who are sensitive to sun exposure should wear ultraviolet-blocking sunscreens to prevent or reduce the development of a skin rash.
DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone): The majority of clinical trials investigating the effect of DHEA for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) support its use as an adjunct treatment. Additional research is needed to confirm these results.
Unclear or conflicting scientific evidence
Copper: A preliminary study suggests that copper offers no benefit to individuals with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Further research is required .
Omega-3 fatty acids: It has been suggested that omega-3 fatty acids may help alleviate symptoms of SLE. However, scientific evidence is inconclusive. Further research is warranted before a firm conclusion can be made.
Psychotherapy: There is conflicting evidence as to whether or not brief supportive-expressive group psychotherapy reduces psychological distress and medical symptoms and improves quality of life of women with SLE. Further studies are needed before a firm conclusion can be drawn.
Pycnogenol®: Pycnogenol® is the patented trade name for a water extract of the bark of the French maritime pine (Pinus pinaster ssp. atlantica). Pycnogenol® may be useful as a second-line therapy to reduce inflammation associated with SLE. Further research is needed before a firm conclusion can be made.
Since the exact cause of lupus remains unknown, there is currently no known method of prevention.