Icon: Active Lupus

What Is a Flare?

Are you having a flare? How do you know, anyway? And why does it matter?

I’ve had a headache for a couple of days now. And all I can wonder is if it’s a lupus flare or ‘just’ a headache.

Lupus flares

A flare is when you have an increase in your lupus disease activity that can be measured. In other words, it’s when some of the symptoms you already had get worse or brand-new symptoms appear. It could be a light rash that spreads or mouth sores that suddenly show up. But some flares may happen without visible signs and can be measured by your doctor (such as kidney involvement).

When lupus is active

A flare of your symptoms means your lupus is active. That means when you feel or see something new, such as a swollen knee, there may be inflammation of one or more organs. Continued active lupus may cause long-term damage to your organs.

How flares affect you

Many lupus flare symptoms can be painful and debilitating. But a recent study showed that they can have a bigger effect on you than just the obvious physical discomfort. Based on a survey of 1,500 people living with lupus, those with more frequent flares may:

  • Be hospitalized more often
  • Visit ERs and urgent care more often
  • Be less productive at work
  • Be less able to perform activities of daily life
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Seeing your doctor

The best way to determine whether or not you are having a flare is to keep track of your symptoms and triggers and share fully with your doctor. When you’re having a flare, you and your doctor should take a look at your treatment plan. Together you may decide a change is in order.


But, because not all lupus disease activity can be seen and felt, don’t forget to see your doctor regularly—flare or not. Their routine monitoring of your condition is key.

Image: Lupus Symptom Tracker

Get help tracking all your symptoms?

Simply share your email address and we’ll send you free tools and resources to help you identify, track, and better understand your symptoms—so you can begin to feel more confident about managing your lupus.

Learn more about the basics of lupus.

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What Is Lupus?

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Types of Lupus

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Common Lupus Symptoms

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Lupus Nephritis

Icon: Active Lupus

What Is a Flare?

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Resource Organizations