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Skip Navigation LinksPennsylvania Department of Health > My Health > A-Z Health Topics > I-L > 557693

   What Causes Lupus

The cause of lupus is not known. You can not get lupus from someone else.   It is likely many factors play a role in a person getting lupus.   Researchers are looking for links to factors such as genes, environment, hormones, and problems with your immune system.

Could I have Lupus? 

Risk Factors

  Anyone can get lupus but common risk factors include:

  • Age: most common in childbearing age between 15 and 45 years of age but can develop in childhood or later in life.
  • Female: risk is much higher in women since 9 out of 10 persons with lupus are women.
  • Race: African-American women are three times more likely to get lupus than Caucasian women.  Latino, Asian, and Native American women are at higher risk.

Warning Signs of Lupus

  Common signs:
  • Painful or swollen joints;
  • Muscle pain;
  • Fever with no known cause;
  • Skin rashes, often butterfly-shaped rash across nose and cheeks;
  • Chest pain when taking a deep breath;
  • Hair loss;
  • Pale or purple fingers or toes;
  • Sensitivity to the sun or light;
  • Anemia (decrease in red blood cells);
  • Mouth ulcers;
  • Swollen glands;
  • Feeling very tired; and
  • Kidney problems with no known cause.