- Steroids . Steroid creams can be applied directly to rashes. The use of creams is usually safe and effective, especially for mild rashes. The use of steroid creams or tablets in low doses can be effective for mild or moderate features of lupus. Steroids also can be used in higher doses when internal organs are threatened. Unfortunately, high doses also are most likely to produce side effects.
- Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine). Commonly used to help keep mild lupus-related problems, such as skin and joint disease, under control. This drug is also effective at preventing lupus flares.
- Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide). A chemotherapy drug that has very powerful effects on reducing the activity of the immune system. It is used to treat severe forms of lupus, such as those affecting the kidneys or brain.
- Imuran (azathioprine). A medication originally used to prevent rejection of transplanted organs. It is commonly used to treat the more serious features of lupus.
- Rheumatrex (methotrexate). Another chemotherapy drug used to suppress the immune system. Its use is becoming increasingly popular for skin disease, arthritis, and other non-life-threatening forms of disease that have not responded to medications such as hydroxychloroquine or low doses of prednisone.
- Benlysta (belimumab). This drug weakens the immune system by targeting a protein that may reduce the abnormal B cells thought to contribute to lupus. People with active, autoantibody-positive lupus may benefit from Benlysta when given in addition to standard drug therapy.
- CellCept (mycophenolate mofetil). A drug that suppresses the immune system and is also used to prevent rejection of transplanted organs. It is being used increasingly to treat serious features of lupus, especially those previously treated by Cytoxan.
- Rituxan (rituximab). A biologic agent used to treat lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis. It is used to treat the most serious features of lupus when other therapies are not effective.
What Is the Outlook for People With Lupus?
The outlook for lupus varies, depending on the organs involved and the severity of symptoms. The disease often includes periods of symptoms followed by periods of remission or lack of symptoms. Most people with lupus can expect to have a normal lifespan, especially if they follow their doctor’s instructions and their treatment plans.