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Home > Blogs > All you need to know about Dermatomyositis

All you need to know about Dermatomyositis

Obstetrics and Gynaecology | Posted on 12/07/2022 by RBH


What is dermatomyositis?

Dermatomyositis is a medical condition that causes distinctive skin rash and muscle inflammation. It is a rare inflammatory disorder that causes muscle weakness in children and adults. The condition mostly affects adults in their late 40s to early 60s. However, children between 5 to 15 years are also at a higher risk of being affected. In addition, the risk of developing dermatomyositis is more in women as compared to men.  Dermatomyositis is not contagious but if you have the condition, there is a higher risk that your further generation may develop an autoimmune disease. 

While there is no permanent cure for the condition, dermatomyositis symptoms can be managed through different treatment methods. It is generally difficult to distinguish dermatomyositis from skin conditions due to the similarity of the symptoms. Therefore a regular health checkup can ensure effective treatment and a better quality of life. Let’s dive deep and discuss dermatomyositis and its pathology. 

What are the causes of dermatomyositis?

While the exact cause of inflammation is still unknown, the condition usually occurs due to an autoimmune disorder. The body’s immune system mistakenly attacks your body’s tissues which can cause muscle weakness and rashes. It is estimated that around 15% to 30 % of dermatomyositis cases are associated with breast, ovary, or lung cancer. These may not be directly associated with dermatomyositis but may progress the condition. 

In addition, there are also several external factors that contribute to the development of dermatomyositis. If you are a passive smoker or have a history of chronic health issues, you are likely at risk of developing dermatomyositis. Environmental factors such as viral infections, and sun exposure can also contribute to dermatomyositis causes. However, it is important to distinguish dermatomyositis from other health disorders.  

What are the symptoms of dermatomyositis?

Dermatomyositis symptoms can appear gradually or suddenly depending on the intensity of the inflammation. Common symptoms include changes in skin color around the face, eyelids, knuckles, elbows, chest, and back. You may observe a violet-colored or dusky red rash which can be itchy and painful. 

While these are initial signs which can indicate dermatomyositis symptoms, you may also experience progressive muscle weakness around your thighs, hips, shoulders, upper arms, and neck. You may feel weak and fatigued on both sides of your body which can get worse with time. Therefore, it is crucial to get treatment if you are developing muscle weakness or any skin rash. 

How to diagnose dermatomyositis?

In case you are experiencing dermatomyositis symptoms, the doctor will thoroughly examine your symptoms to rule out the cause of inflammation due to other medical conditions. The doctor may look at your medical history or go through your family history report. In addition, the doctor may also perform a physical examination to look for a distinctive skin rash. 

While a physical examination is significant in determining the inflammation due to the distinguished rash, the doctor may still suggest several diagnostic tests to confirm the disease. Dermatomyositis diagnosis includes the following tests - 

  • MRI
  • Chest X-ray
  • Skin or muscle biopsy
  • Electromyography
  • Blood analysis

Get in touch with the doctor in case you are experiencing initial signs of inflammation and get treatment in time. 

How to cure dermatomyositis?

Dermatomyositis treatment aims at reducing symptoms to improve quality of life. Since there is no known cure for the disease, the doctor may recommend several options to help manage dermatomyositis symptoms. 

The treatment can vary from one patient to another depending on their medical health and severity. The doctor may recommend medications, physical therapy, or surgery to improve the condition of your skin and restore muscle strength. Talk to your doctor regarding the different methods for dermatomyositis treatment and discuss your medical health for effective results. 

  • Medications
    • Corticosteroids
    • Corticosteroid-sparing agents
    • Rituximab
    • Antimalarial medications (for persistent skin rash)
    • Sunscreens (for skin rash)
  • Therapy
  • Surgery
    • Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG)

How to prevent dermatomyositis?

Since there is no known cause of the condition, dermatomyositis prevention primarily focuses on regular health checkups and being aware of your symptoms. It is important to get timely treatment which may not cure the disease but can help manage the pain and discomfort. Additionally, it is important to have a balanced diet and regular exercise for long-term health benefits.

FAQs

What is the life expectancy of someone with dermatomyositis?

Around 20% of people diagnosed with dermatomyositis go into long-term remission. However, there are several factors like age, existing medical condition, history of cancers, etc. which can affect the life expectancy of the individual. 

What does dermatomyositis look like?

The initial symptoms may include changes in skin color. You may observe a dusky red or violet-colored rash which can be painful and itchy. 

What organs does dermatomyositis affect?

Dermatomyositis usually weakens the muscles closest to the trunk, thighs, hips, shoulders, upper arms, and neck. The condition may also result in a red rash on the face, eyelids, knuckles, elbows, knees, chest, and back. 

Can dermatomyositis be fatal?

In rare cases, dermatomyositis can be fatal if proper treatment is not received in time. Around 5% of people diagnosed with dermatomyositis suffer from a severe disability that can be fatal. 

Does dermatomyositis make you tired?

Dermatomyositis usually causes muscle weakness which can make it difficult for patients to carry out their daily tasks. Most people with similar symptoms can experience loss of energy and often feel fatigued.