Dermatomyositis is a connective - tissue disease which features with the skin rash, weakness and pain in muscle. Basically in dermatomyositis both, the skin and the muscles are inflamed. This is a type of inflammatory myopathy.
Dermatomyositis may affect people of all ages. Still, it predominantly affects people in their 40s and early 60s. It may also affect children between the age of 5 and 15. And finally, this medical condition is more reported in women than in men.
Causes of Dermatomyositis
The exact cause of dermatomyositis has not been identified yet. However, many doctors believe that viral infection of the muscles may be a trigger of this inflammatory illness. It is also considered that dermatomyositis develops as a consequence of abnormal immunological reaction where antibodies attack muscle and skin cells.
Symptoms of Dermatomyositis
Once they occur the symptoms of dermatomyositis tend to develop gradually over weeks or months.
The most common symptoms of dermatomyositis are violet or dusky red rash and progressive muscle weakness. The rash typically affect the face, eyelids, occurs around the nails, on knuckles, elbows, chest and the back. The rash is bluish or purple and is basically the initial symptom of the disease. Progressive muscle weakness usually affects the muscles closest to the chest. They include hip and thigh muscles, muscles of the shoulders, upper arm and neck. The weakness of the affected muscles is symmetrical and it progresses in time.
Apart from the previously mentioned dermatomyositis may also cause muscle pain and tenderness, fatigue and weight loss. The patients sometimes complain about shortness of breath and swallowing difficulties. The scalp may be scaly and there is even a chance of hair thinning. Apart from the typical rash, the skin may be covered with purple spots on the bony prominences and hardened deposits of calcium may be found under the skin. And finally, in some cases there are gastrointestinal ulcers and infections.
Treatment for Dermatomyositis
There is no specific cure for dermatomyositis since its cause cannot be identified. The goal of the treatment is to strengthen the muscles and alleviate the problems with skin.
Corticosteroids are the medications commonly prescribed in patients suffering from dermatomyositis. They suppress immune system and may help with the symptoms and signs caused by inflammation. Prednisone is one of the most frequently prescribed corticosteroids for this purpose. Together with corticosteroids patients are prescribed corticosteroid-sparing agents to decrease potential side effects of corticosteroid treatment.
Furthermore, patients with persistent rash may be prescribed antimalarian medications such as hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine.
Additional strengthening of the affected muscle can be achieved by certain exercises.