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Unusual Questions

Q.  Can you help me, my daughter (14) has SLE. Being a young girl she is interested in tattoos (permanent) and piercings (just upper ear). I understand there are age limits particularly for tattoos, but my question is whether permanent tattoos and piercings are out of the question because of lupus?

A.  

There are no specific problems associated with tattoos in lupus patients. Clearly you should be aware of the small risk of infection with hepatitis B and C and very occasionally lupus patients may have a reaction to the tattoo dye but this is very rare.

Q.   I have lupus, can I use hair dye or perming solutions?

A.  

In general these are safe. Some years ago there was a controversial research paper that suggested that hair dyes caused lupus. However, subsequent studies have not confirmed this. Some patients with both discoid and SLE may be allergic to dyes and chemicals and should be aware of a possible reaction.

Q.  Can you have a hair coloured if you have discoid lupus?

A.  

If you have active discoid lesions on your scalp, or you are suffering from hair loss as a result of lupus, I would be cautious about using hair dyes. Chemicals in the dye can act as irritants, (although nothing has been proven to link them with lupus), further damaging your hair follicles. Your hairdresser may be able to advise on what product may be safe for you to use.

Q.  My daughter who is 19, was diagnosed with lupus a few months ago. I am having a problem getting her to look after herself ie not drinking too much alcohol. Her kidneys have been affected and she has been undergoing some aggressive steroid treatment. Do you think that the alcohol will do her kidneys any harm or cause a lupus flare?

A.  

There's no evidence that alcohol can cause a lupus flare. However, there is a serious risk that alcohol can interact with medications for lupus, especially blood thinning medicines such as Warfarin. Binges of alcohol are particularly risky in patients on Warfarin. Small to moderate amounts of alcohol may be of benefit in terms of cardiovascular health but this should be discussed with your doctor.

Q.  Is it safe to have botox treatment if I have lupus?

A.  

Yes, there is no evidence that botox injections have an adverse effect on lupus. However, the physician administering the botox should be aware of your diagnosis and also what drugs you are taking.

Q.  Can a lupus patient have corrective eye surgery?

A.  

As far as I am aware the risks of corrective eye surgery are not increased by having lupus. However, many lupus patients have dry eyes and this may affect the outcome of surgery. You should discuss the diagnosis and treatment carefully with your ophthalmologist.

Q.  Can lupus patients have colonic irrigation?

A.  

There should not be any problem for lupus patients undergoing colonic irrigation. However, if you have other bowel problems these should be mentioned to the person performing the colonic irrigation.

Q.  I have lupus can I be an organ donor?

A.  

Having an existing medical condition does not necessarily prevent a person from becoming an organ or tissue donor. In the event of death, clinicians, taking account of that persons medical history, will make a decision about whether some or all organs or tissues are suitable for transplant. Usually, but not always, it is possible for some organs or tissues to be donated. There are only 2 absolute contraindications to organ donation: being HIV positive and having or at risk of having CJD. Therefore, I see no reason why lupus sufferers should not be considered as potential donors, whilst alive or after death.

The above answer came from Christine Cole, Organ Donor Register Team Leader.

Q.  I am due to give birth in two weeks and am anti-ro positive (I have lupus/Sjögren’s with mild joint/fatigue symptoms, Hashimoto's hypothyroidism and Graves Eye Disease). I am concerned that breastfeeding whilst passing on my 'good' antibodies, might also pass on my bad antibodies. Is it possible to pass on anti-ro through breast milk?

A.  

Many, many lupus patients breastfeed their babies with no problems. Lupus specialists only have concerns about patients breastfeeding their babies when they are taking certain drugs which may pass through their milk to the baby. Whilst there is a small genetic tendency in families to develop lupus, this is by no means a strong link.

Q.  Can umbilical cord treatment cure lupus?

A.  

The umbilical cord is a source of stem cells used for stem cell transplants. The 10% fatality rate in this treatment makes it too risky for patients to undergo.

Q.  I have SLE and I was wondering if I could have semi permanent make up done?

A.  

There is no real reason why you cannot have semi-permanent make-up applied. The risk to your health would be if you suffer from skin manifestations associated to your lupus. It may be advisable to have a skin test first to see if you react. I am not sure what is involved in semi-permanent make-up. Some patients with both discoid lupus and SLE may be allergic to dyes and chemicals and should be aware of a possible reaction.

Q.  Can I have breast implants?

A.  

This is a difficult question to answer. Saline implants are probably fine, but he is still wary of silicone implants even though the Department of Health said officially that there is no link with lupus disorders. It remains to be seen whether the PIP implants may be associated with SLE or scleroderma as they used non-medical grade silicone.