Senior Health Issues - Lupus
My Experience With Lupus - S.M. Female Age: 83
I was first diagnosed with lupus in the early 1980s. At the time I was having many health issues. However, it's been so long now I can't remember which conditions I was experiencing were associated with lupus.
For the past 8 years I have had recurrent skin rashes that won't go away without medication (prednisone). Typically a spot or two would appear somewhere on my arm, then more spots would appear daily. Sometimes just my arms and upper torso would be affected. Other times I would have the spots all over my body, face, even in my mouth and nose.
The spots itched terribly. If I started scratching them the itching became almost unbearable. I was prescribed various steroid creams by my primary care doctor and dermatologist(s). However, the only drug that had any lasting effect was prednisone. Taking prednisone always brought relief from the itching and reduced the number and size of the spots, but didn't always get rid of them completely. Sometimes I would be free of spots for 6 months or more, sometimes they came back within days of finishing the round of prednisone.
For several years my rash was considered an auto-immune disorder and prednisone was the accepted treatment. However, after suffering repeated recurrences of the rash my doctor suggested I see another dermatologist. Once again a biopsy of one of the lesions was inconclusive and a steroid cream was prescribed. His best guess was lichenoids caused by medication or other reason. Several months later I decided to try one last dermatologist. He too took several biopsies of the spots and blood samples. In addition he had all of the dermatologists at the clinic look at the spots to try to come up with an answer.
This time they finally had a diagnosis - lupus. Apparently my lupus had returned but in a new form - red, itchy sores. Plaquenil (Hydroxychloroquine), was prescribed to treat it. During my last bout with lupus I was also prescribed plaquenil and took it for about 6 years until they decided my lupus was in remission. As it is potentially hard on the eyes, I had to make an appointment with my ophthalmologist to determine if my eyes were healthy enough to take the drug - they were.
I'm happy to say that after all these years, biopsies, blood tests, doctors and dermatologists I finally have an answer for my rash. Once I began taking plaquenil the spots began to disappear. I have been taking the drug for several months now and have no itchy spots - Yay!
I wasn't happy to hear that my lupus had returned, but am happy to finally have a diagnosis and treatment.