Re: Should I start Plaquenil? Just diagnosed with SLE- have included lab tests
Welcome! I can only say that Plaquenil has helped me greatly since being dx'ed over 10 years ago. Over many years, I had widespread pain (joints & shins), migraines, GI & urinary problems, low WBC, elevated ESR, etc. My skin rashes were the last symptom to arrive. I started at 200 mg twice daily, then reduced to 200 mg daily after 1-1/2 yrs. Even with Plaquenil, I need OTC's (like Advil) for pain. Also, scrupulous sun protection/avoidance is a must for me (my rashes were horribly photosensitive).
I remember only a few small side effects when starting Plaquenil. I'd heat up like a furnace about an hour after taking it, and my vision had some "halo effect" at night. Also some minor nausea. But these problems resolved pretty quickly. Because of the VERY SMALL risk for melanin buildup on the retina, my rheum still requires me to have a field vision test every six months. (BTW, such buildup, when it VERY RARELY occurs due to Plaquenil, almost always reverses if the drug is dc'ed, which wasn't true of some of the earlier antimalarials. That's one reason Plaquenil is considered a much safer drug.)
The goal in taking Plaquenil is to suppress creation of autoantibodies BEFORE they wreak damage, esp. to major organs---also to avoid, if possible, needing stronger drugs like steroids, which have more & worse side effects than Plaquenil has.
Personally, I'd want to know what specific type of lesions I had, but I'd probably not delay starting Plaquenil, given your lab results & skin problems.
When you see the dermatologist, ask him/her to spell out the rules on sun exposure. You do NOT want any discoid (scarring) lesions, esp. on your face or scalp. I learned the hard way that people with lupus are "eligible" for multiple rashes. I had many years of SCLE annular (nonscarring) on upper arms & back, but also got a large scarring discoid on my face that required surgery because it was open & refused to heal.
Glad you found us & hope you keep in touch. There's always someone here when you want to talk. Let us know how you're doing, OK? Best wishes, Vee