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The pain and discomfort of SLE can be physically and mentally debilitating. Encourage the patient to maintain activity when the symptoms are mild or in remission. Encourage patients to pace all activity and to allow for adequate rest. Hot packs may relieve joint pain and stiffness. If the patient has Raynaud's phenomenon (abnormal vasoconstriction of the extremities), use warmth to relieve symptoms and protect the patient's hands from injury.

Support the patient's self-image by encouraging good grooming. Suggest hypoallergenic cosmetics, shaving products, and hair products. Encourage the patient to use a hair stylist or barber who specializes in caring for people with scalp disorders and to protect all body surfaces from direct sunlight. The patient should use sunscreen with a protective factor of at least 20 and wear a hat and long sleeves while in the sun. Note that certain drugs (tetracycline) and food (figs, parsley, celery) augment the effects of ultraviolet light and therefore should be avoided.

Fatigue and stress can lead to exacerbations of the illness. Explore ways for the patient to get adequate rest. Because the patient's immune system may have a diminished capacity, encourage the patient to avoid exposure to illness.

Explore the meaning of the chronic illness and coping strategies with the patient. Allow adequate time to discuss fears and concerns. A referral to a support group or counselor may also be necessary.

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