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Partnering to treat lupus

Collaboration between a dermatologist and rheumatologist transforms care for a patient with blistering wounds.

Parker's story

Parker Enix-Ross
Parker Enix-Ross, Westfield, N.J.
I didn’t think I’d spend my college years covered in bandages.

In eighth grade I was diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune condition that attacks my healthy body tissues, and it was relatively well-controlled at that point in my life.

After a case of shingles in college, I experienced a severe lupus flare with symptoms including bloody wounds on my face and scalp. I spent hours a day bandaging myself—something that was both physically and emotionally painful.

Luckily, Dr. Victoria Werth had a dermatology clinic near my college campus and was able to see me quickly. Dr. Werth collaborated with Dr. Preethi Thomas, the rheumatologist who treats my lupus, to determine the best plan and even advocated for me to join a clinical trial to get access to the right treatment for my specific needs. Because of their partnership, I’ve seen remarkable changes to my skin and overall health in the past year.

Previously I always wanted to prove myself and had a habit of pushing myself too hard, despite my lupus worsening when I’m stressed. But Dr. Werth encouraged me to listen to my body and focus on healing.

I’m not out of the woods yet, but thanks to my care team—spearheaded by Dr. Werth who works closely with my other doctors—I know I’m on the right track and in the best hands.

The dermatologist's perspective

Victoria Werth, MD, FAAD

“Many people don’t associate lupus with the skin, but nearly two in three people with lupus will develop some type of skin disease. It’s important for dermatologists to work hand-in-hand with rheumatologists as part of a collaborative care team when patients have serious systemic disease. When I first started caring for patients like Parker there were few options for effective treatments. However, there are treatments now and on the horizon that may improve the entire course of the disease—and patients’ lives.”

─ Victoria Werth, MD, FAAD, Professor of Dermatology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the Veteran's Administration Medical Center; Chief, Dermatology, Philadelphia V.A. Hospital; and Professor of Medicine

The rheumatologist's perspective

Preethi Thomas, MD

“Lupus affects so many parts of the body, including skin, kidneys, lungs, and even the bone marrow. Because of this, it’s essential that specialists work together to create a treatment plan that best serves the patient. I’m proud to collaborate with Dr. Werth on hundreds of cases to ensure patients get the care needed for their specific situations. Dr. Werth is instrumental in transforming so many lives—including Parker’s.”

─ Preethi Thomas, MD, Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

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