Medications for Lupus

To fight lupus a person must be prepared to take an assortment of medications based on their needs at that moment. These can be broken down in several groups depending on what the purpose of the drug is. The average patient dealing with lupus can count on using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, commonly referred to as NSAIDs, anti-malarial medications, corticosteroids and immunosuppressives.

Each one has its uses and some will work better for some patients then for others. But all of them will be reviewed by the health care provider to determine which are best for their patients based on the condition and needs of the individual.


NSAIDs are a type of medication, most often bought over the counter like ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Or they can be prescribed if the health care provider feels something just a little stronger would be better. These are a milder kind of anti-inflammatory that can give relief when the patient is suffering from swelling of the joints and joint or muscle pain.

Nearly eighty percent of all patients who have lupus use these. Using these drugs helps to keep the person with lupus from always having to use excessively strong medications. If these NSAIDs work for them it is a better alternative.


Anti-malarial medicines are drugs that were originally developed to deal with the malaria infection. May years later doctors were surprised to find that anti-malarial drugs deal very well with the many symptoms that those with lupus develop.

These include pain in the joints, the rashes on the skin, inflammation that may be in the lungs and the excessive tiredness. They have also found that continued use of anti-malarial drugs may prevent flare-ups. The most widely used anti-malarial in the United States is hydroxychloroquine which is also known under the brand name Plaquenil.


The family of corticosteroids is the main drugs used to treat lupus. Corticosteroids contain a natural anti-inflammatory hormone. They are very potent drugs and because of this the health care providers do their best to keep the doses low while still getting a benefit from them. These drugs work fast as diminishing the inflammation. That is what makes them so valuable.

But they do have side effects and some of them are not very pleasant. They include weight can, high blood pressure and in the long term cataracts and weakened bones. A person cannot just stop using these suddenly they must be weaned off them to avoid having medical problems when they stop. But, when they are no longer taking them most of the side effects disappear.


The other type of drug that is used a lot is immunosuppressants. The job of this medication is to stop the immune system, which is overreacting and so attacking healthy tissue, from attacking the body and to block the production of more immune cells.

These are more frequently used when a person is dealing with a situation where the kidneys or the central nervous systems are being damaged. A patient suffering with lupus must trust their health care provider to recommend to them which combination of medications to use.