What is Dermatomyositis?

Dermatomyositis is an acquired disorder due to inflammation in muscle and skin. Children and adults may both be affected and females are more likely to obtain it than males. The symptoms are weakness, muscle soreness, bumps of calcium deposits under the skin, and a red, scaly rash on the elbows, knees, chest, and face. The presence of the rash usually comes before the muscle weakness, and it helps distinguish the disorder as dermatomyositis. Also, approximately one-half of the people with dermatomyositis will have troubles swallowing.

What causes Dermatomyositis?

The exact cause is uncertain. A few different theories exist as to the cause of dermatomyositis. One thought is that being around certain chemicals or viruses etc., will cause dermatomyositis in people with specific genetics in their family. The idea is that certain proteins within the body destroy the body's tissues.

How is Dermatomyositis diagnosed?

EMGs cannot diagnose dermatomyositis, but can eliminate the possibility of another disease that performs similarly. Other options that help to diagnose dermatomyositis are MRIs, muscle biopsies, and creatine kinase tests (a type of blood test).

How is Dermatomyositis treated?

Treatment begins with oral steroids like prednisone and other immune system modifying drugs may sometimes be required. Physical therapy is used to help as well. The response to treatment is variable, but improvement is usually expected.

More Information

Myositis Association of America
National Organization for Rare Disorders
Muscular Dystrophy Association
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association
Arthritis Foundation

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