Pronounced: Der-MAA-toe-MY-oh-SI-tisEn Español (Spanish Version)
Dermatomyositis is a noninfectious inflammation of muscle tissue and skin.
Dermatomyositis and its sister disease, polymyositis , belong to a large category of connective tissue disorders that include lupus erythematosus , rheumatoid arthritis , and scleroderma (systemic sclerosis).
They are all believed to represent “autoimmune disorders,” where the body launches an attack against its own tissue. These chronic, progressive conditions lead to tissue destruction. They are potentially serious conditions that require care from your doctor. The sooner these disorders are treated, the more favorable the outcome. If you suspect you have dermatomyositis, contact your doctor immediately.
Although the cause or causes are not known, a viral infection may trigger the onset of dermatomyositis by causing the body’s immune system to misidentify infected skin and muscle tissue as a threat.
The following factor increases your chance of developing dermatomyositis:
If you experience any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to dermatomyositis. These symptoms may be caused by other, less serious health conditions. If you experience any one of the following symptoms, see your physician.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. You are likely to be referred to a rheumatologist (a doctor who specializes in musculoskeletal disorders).
Tests may include the following:
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
Because dermatomyositis is a serious disease with long-term implications, physical exercise, a healthy lifestyle, and a nutritious diet are an integral part of treatment.
Cortisone-like drugs, usually oral prednisone, often produce a satisfactory response over the course of 2 to 3 months, after which the dose may be reduced according to the activity of the disease.
Agents used to treat cancer and organ transplants have helped patients who did not respond to prednisone. Examples of these medications include:
The following treatments have been used for severe disease:
Last reviewed November 2008 by Ross Zeltser, MD, FAAD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.