Dermatomyositis is a rare disease that causes muscle inflammation and skin rash. It’s one of a group of muscle diseases that cause muscle inflammation and swelling. It's different from other muscle diseases because it also causes inflammatory skin rashes. Dermatomyositis is the term used to describe both muscle and skin symptoms, but some people will have only one or the other.
It can occur at any age, but it most often affects adults ages 50 to 70. Women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with the disease. Some people with the disease also have a connective tissue disorder, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
The exact cause is not known, but possible causes include:
Swelling and inflammation in the blood vessels that supply your skin and muscles cause symptoms such as:
Sometimes the muscle inflammation can spread to other parts of the body including the heart, gastrointestinal tract, and lungs. Lung involvement can cause breathing trouble and coughing. Adults may have a low-grade fever, along with lung inflammation and sensitivity to light.
First your healthcare provider will ask about your medical history and do a physical exam. He or she will look for an underlying disease, such as cancer. Your provider may also do the following tests:
Treatment will depend on your symptoms, your age, and your general health. There's no cure for the condition, but the symptoms can be managed. You may need more than one kind of treatment. And your treatment may need to be changed over time. Treatments include:
Talk with your healthcare providers about the risks, benefits, and possible side effects of all medicines.
Possible complications for some people with dermatomyositis include lung disease, heart disease, or cancer. These can make treatment more difficult.
If you have dermatomyositis, you may need treatment for the rest of your life. It's important to learn as much as you can about the disease. Work closely with your healthcare provider. Researchers are studying causes and treatments for the condition. Early diagnosis and treatment for the disease may improve over time.
If your symptoms get worse or you notice new symptoms, notify your healthcare provider.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
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