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There is no cure for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), instead treatment is focused on:

  • Preventing flare ups
  • Treating flare ups when they occur
  • Decreasing the chance of complications, such as organ damage
  • Maintaining or improving quality of life

Exact treatments will depend on individual's overall health, the areas of the body that are affected, and the impact of symptoms on life. Specialists may be needed, such as a rheumatologist to manage joint issues, cardiologist for heart complications, or nephrologist for kidney problems.

SLE is different in everyone. No matter which symptoms are present, the earlier SLE and SLE flare ups are detected and treated, the better it can be managed. Keeping in touch with the medical team is important to help find the treatments that work best.

The goals of SLE treatment include:

SLE treatments may involve the following:

Lifestyle changes
Alternative and complementary therapies


Guidelines for referral and management of systemic lupus erythematosus in adults. American College of Rheumatology Ad Hoc Committee on Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Guidelines. Arthritis Rheum. 1999;42(9):1785-1796.

Lupus. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: Updated May 2013. Accessed December 29, 2014.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated November 24, 2014. Accessed December 29, 2014.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The Merck Manual Professional Edition website. Available at: Updated October 2013. Accessed December 29, 2014.

Treating lupus. Lupus Foundation of America website. Available at: Updated December 29, 2014.

Last reviewed May 2015 by Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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