What is Dermatomyositis?

Dermatomyositis is a rare disease. It is an inflammatory condition that creates a skin rash and muscle weakness. Both children and adults alike can be affected by it. Although there is no cure for it, the symptoms are very manageable.

Dermatomyositis is an autoimmune disease and underlying disorders that permanently affect the immune system such as cancer or sever viral infections may lead to the development of the condition.

What are the Symptoms of Dermatomyositis?

The most prevalent symptom of dermatomyositis is a skin rash on the chest, elbows, nails, or face. The rash is fairy distinctive as it has a bluish-purple color and it can be patchy in appearance. Muscle weakness usually follows and gets worse over the course of weeks or months. The muscle weakness is usually felt in the hips, neck or arms and is usually felt on both sides of the body.

There can be other symptoms that occur as well. These can include lung problems, muscle tenderness or pain, difficulty swallowing, fatigue, calcium deposits under skin, fever, or weight loss.

How is Dermatomyositis Treated?

Treatment for dermatomyositis focuses on improvement of muscle weakness and skin condition.

Treatment includes

Doctors might suggest surgery but they are more likely to consider medication and physical therapy first.

Corticosteroid medication is usually the first thing doctors will try.  They can be taken orally or applied to the skin. This type of medication lowers the amount of inflammation-causing antibodies, which cause your immune system to react slower. Corticosteroids do have side effects though so they are not usually used for a long-term solution.

If corticosteroids do not work other drugs, like methotrexate or azathioprine might be prescribed. Alternates to medication include intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG), which is administered via IV and contains antibodies gathered from healthy blood donations, and physical therapy to improve muscle strength and diminish the loss of muscle tissues.  If you have calcium deposits, surgery may be recommended.

Last Reviewed:
October 05, 2016
Last Updated:
September 06, 2017