4 Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Nursing Care Plans


Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes a systemic inflammatory response in various parts of the body. The cause of SLE is unknown, but genetics and hormonal and environmental factors are involved. Under normal circumstances, the body’s immune system produces antibodies against invading disease antigens to protect itself. In individuals with SLE, the body loses its ability to discriminate between antigens and its own cells and tissues. It produces antibodies against itself, called autoantibodies, and these antibodies react with the antigens and result in the development of immune complexes. Immune complexes proliferate in the tissues of the client with SLE and result in inflammation, tissue damage, and pain. Mild disease can affect joints and skin. More severe diseases can affect the kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels, central nervous system, joints, and skin.

There are three types of lupus. The discoid type is limited to the skin and only rarely involves other organs. Systemic lupus is more common and usually more severe than discoid; it can affect any organ system in the body. With systemic lupus, there may be periods of remission and flares. The third type of lupus is drug-induced. The drugs most commonly implicated in precipitating this condition are hydralazine (Apresoline), procainamide (Pronestyl), isoniazid (INH), chlorpromazine (Thorazine), d-penicillamine, and some anti-seizure medications. Symptoms usually do not present until after months or years of continued administration. The symptoms are usually abolished when the drugs are discontinued.

Nursing Care Plans

Nursing goals of a client will systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) may include relief of pain and discomfort, relief of fatigue, maintenance of skin integrity, compliance with the prescribed medications, increased knowledge regarding the disease, and absence of complications.

Here are four (4) nursing care plans and nursing diagnosis (NCP) for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE):

  1. Impaired Skin Integrity
  2. Acute Pain
  3. Fatigue
  4. Deficient Knowledge

Impaired Skin Integrity

Nursing Diagnosis

May be related to

  • Exacerbation of the disease process
  • High-dose corticosteroid use
  • Inflammation
  • Use of immunosuppressant drugs
  • Vasoconstriction

Possibly evidenced by

  • Diffuse areas of hair loss
  • Itching
  • Loss of discrete patches of scalp hair
  • Oral and nasal ulcers
  • Pain and tenderness
  • Redness
  • Scalp hair loss possibly accompanied by lesions, scarring, or dry, scaling skin tissue
  • Skin breakdown
  • Skin rash

Desired Outcomes

  • The client will verbalize the ability to cope with hair loss.
  • The client will identify measures to cover scalp loss as required by personal preference.
  • The client will maintain optimal skin integrity, as evidenced by an absence of rashes and skin lesions.

Nursing Assessment and Rationales

1. Assess the skin for integrity.
Small lesions may develop on the oral and nasal mucous membranes. Disclike lesions that appear as a dense maculopapular rash may occur on the client’s face or chest.

2. Assess the client’s description of pain.
Gathering information about pain can guide treatment. Each client may exhibit slightly different presentations.

3. Assess for an erythematous rash, which may be present on the face, neck, or extremities.
The classic “butterfly” rash may appear across the bridge of the nose and on the cheeks and is characteristically displayed in the configuration of a butterfly. This is evident in about 50% of clients.

4. Assess for photosensitivity.
Clients may respond violently to ultraviolet light or to sunlight. Disease flares or outbreaks of severe rash may occur in response to exposure.

5. Assess the degree to which symptoms interfere with the client’s lifestyle and body image.
A broad range of behaviors is associated with body image changes, ranging from totally ignoring the change to a preoccupation with it.

Nursing Interventions and Rationales

1. Encourage adequate nutrition and hydration.
These measures promote healthy skin and healing in the presence of wounds.

2. Instruct the client to clean, dry, and moisturize intact skin; use warm (not hot) water, especially over bony prominences; use unscented lotion. Use mild shampoo.
Scented lotions may contain alcohol, which dries the skin. Prescribed solutions reduce dryness of the scalp and maintain skin integrity.

3. Instruct the client to avoid contact with harsh chemicals and to wear appropriate protective gloves, as needed. Avoid hair dye, permanent solution, and curl relaxers.
Chemicals aggravate this condition.

4. Recommended prophylactic pressure-relieving devices (e.g., special mattress, elbow pads).
Such devices aid in the prevention of skin breakdown.

For skin rash:

  • Wear protective eyewear.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat and carry an umbrella.
  • Wear maximum protection sunscreen (SPF 15 or above) in the sun. Sunbathing is contraindicated.
  • Avoid ultraviolet rays.

The sun can exacerbate a skin rash or precipitate a disease flare. Special lotions, glasses, and other items may be required to protect the skin from sunlight exposure.

5. Inform the client of the availability of special makeup (at large department stores) to cover rashes, especially facial rashes.
These preparations are specially formulated to completely cover rashes, birthmarks, and darkly pigmented areas. This will help the client who is having problems adjusting to body image changes.

6. Introduce or reinforce information about the use of hydroxychloroquine.
This antimalarial drug is a slow-acting medicine used to relieve or reduce inflammation and rash. It may take 8 to 12 weeks to effect. A potential side effect is a retinal toxicity. The client must follow up with an ophthalmologist every 6 months. Topical cortisone medication may likewise be used.

For oral ulcers:

  • Instruct the client to avoid spicy or citrusy foods.
    These foods might irritate fissures or ulcers in the mucous membranes.
  • Instruct the client to rinse the mouth with half-strength hydrogen peroxide three times per day.
    Hydrogen peroxide helps keep oral ulcers clean.
  • Instruct the client to keep ulcerated skin clean and dry. Apply dressings as needed.
    Skin is necessary to prevent infection and promote healing.
  • Instruct the client to apply topical ointments as prescribed.
    Vitamins A and E may be useful in maintaining skin health.

For hair loss:

  • Instruct the client that scalp hair loss occurs during the exacerbation of disease activity.
    Scalp hair loss may be the first sign of impending disease exacerbation. Scalp hair loss may not be permanent. As disease activity subsides, scalp hair begins to regrow.
  • Instruct the client that scalp hair loss may be caused by high-dose corticosteroids (prednisone) and immunosuppressant drugs.
    Hair will regrow as the dose decreases.
  • Encourage the client to investigate ways (e.g., scarves, hats, wigs) to conceal hair loss.
    Hair loss may interfere with lifestyle and self-image.

Recommended Resources

Recommended nursing diagnosis and nursing care plan books and resources.

Disclosure: Included below are affiliate links from Amazon at no additional cost from you. We may earn a small commission from your purchase. For more information, check out our privacy policy.

NANDA International Nursing Diagnoses: Definitions & Classification, 2021-2023
The definitive guide to nursing diagnoses as reviewed and approved by the NANDA International. In this new version of a pioneering text, all introductory chapters have been rewritten to provide nurses with the essential information they need to comprehend assessment, its relationship to diagnosis and clinical reasoning, and the purpose and application of taxonomic organization at the bedside. A total of 46 new nursing diagnoses and 67 amended nursing diagnostics are presented.

Ackley and Ladwig’s Nursing Diagnosis Handbook: An Evidence-Based Guide to Planning Care
We love this book because of it’s evidence-based approach to nursing interventions. This care plan handbook uses an easy, three-step system to guide you through client assessment, nursing diagnosis, and care planning. Includes step-by-step instructions show how to implement care and evaluate outcomes, and help you build skills in diagnostic reasoning and critical thinking.

Nursing Care Plans – Nursing Diagnosis & Intervention (10th Edition)
Includes over two hundred care plans that reflect the most recent evidence-based guidelines. New to this edition are ICNP diagnoses, care plans on LGBTQ health issues and on electrolytes and acid-base balance.

Nurse’s Pocket Guide: Diagnoses, Prioritized Interventions, and Rationales
Quick-reference tool includes all you need to identify the correct diagnoses for efficient patient care planning. The sixteenth edition includes the most recent nursing diagnoses and interventions from NANDA-I 2021-2023 and an alphabetized listing of nursing diagnoses covering more than 400 disorders.

Nursing Diagnosis Manual: Planning, Individualizing, and Documenting Client Care 
Identify interventions to plan, individualize, and document care for more than 800 diseases and disorders. Only in the Nursing Diagnosis Manual will you find for each diagnosis…. subjectively and objectively – sample clinical applications, prioritized action/interventions with rationales – a documentation section, and much more!

All-in-One Nursing Care Planning Resource – E-Book: Medical-Surgical, Pediatric, Maternity, and Psychiatric-Mental Health 
Includes over 100 care plans for medical-surgical, maternity/OB, pediatrics, and psychiatric and mental health. Interprofessional “patient problems” focus familiarizes you with how to speak to patients.

See also

Other recommended site resources for this nursing care plan:

More care plans related to basic nursing concepts:

  1. Cancer (Oncology Nursing) | 13 Care Plans
  2. End-of-Life Care (Hospice Care or Palliative) | 4 Care Plans
  3. Geriatric Nursing (Older Adult) | 11 Care Plans
  4. Prolonged Bed Rest | 8 Care Plans
  5. Surgery (Perioperative Client) | 13 Care Plans
  6. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus | 4 Care Plans
  7. Total Parenteral Nutrition | 4 Care Plans

Paul Martin is a registered nurse with a bachelor of science in nursing since 2007. Having worked as a medical-surgical nurse for five years, he handled different kinds of patients and learned how to provide individualized care to them. Now, his experiences working in the hospital is carried over to his writings to help aspiring students achieve their goals. He is currently working as a nursing instructor and have a particular interest in nursing management, emergency care, critical care, infection control, and public health. As a writer at Nurseslabs, his goal is to impart his clinical knowledge and skills to students and nurses helping them become the best version of themselves and ultimately make an impact in uplifting the nursing profession.
  • >
    Share to...