Specialists Who Treat Lupus

Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own healthy tissue. This causes inflammation that damages the skin, joints, kidneys, brain, and other major organs. The symptoms and severity of the disease can be very different from one person with lupus to another.1-2

Because lupus can cause issues in any part of the body, people living with lupus often see a variety of specialists to help them manage their symptoms. The combination of doctors each person needs will be as individual as they are.

Your primary care physician may be the first doctor to suspect lupus, but they may refer you to other doctors for testing, diagnosis, and specialized care. This means that your primary care doctor may provide care if you have mild, stable lupus and send you to specialists if more severe symptoms develop.

Types of lupus doctors

The other types of physicians that may be involved in your care include:

Rheumatologist

A doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating conditions of the immune system such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and gout.

Nephrologist

A doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating kidney conditions. Lupus nephritis, or inflammation of the kidneys, is a common problem in people with lupus.

Dermatologist

A doctor who diagnoses and treats skin conditions. People with lupus frequently have skin conditions, such as crusty rashes, bumps, nodules, photosensitivity, and alopecia (hair loss).

Cardiologist

A doctor who diagnoses and treats heart and vascular (blood vessel) conditions. High blood pressure, atherosclerosis, chest pain, angina, and other heart conditions are common in people with lupus.

Neurologist

A doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating conditions of the nervous system, including the brain, nerves, and spine. Neurological problems, such as trouble thinking, headaches, mood swings, depression, and stroke, are some of the more common issues of lupus.

Gastroenterologist

A doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating problems of the gastrointestinal tract, which includes the esophagus, stomach, and intestines.

High-risk obstetrician/gynecologist

A doctor who cares for pregnant women with high-risk pregnancies or trouble getting pregnant. Miscarriage and stillbirths are more common in women with lupus.

Ophthalmologist

A doctor who specializes in caring for the eyes. Dry eyes, or Sjogren’s syndrome, and other eye conditions are a common problem for people with lupus.

Dentist

A doctor who specializes in caring for the teeth.

Because lupus symptoms mimic many other illnesses and can be unpredictable, it can be difficult to get a correct diagnosis. In fact, it takes nearly 6 years for people with lupus to be diagnosed. Nearly two-thirds of people with lupus report being incorrectly diagnosed and seeing 4 or more physicians before being accurately diagnosed.1

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Written by: Jessica Johns Pool | Last reviewed: January 2020