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Dermatomyositis: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Dermatomyositis is a rare inflammatory disease accompanied by rashes, muscle weakness and muscle stiffness.

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Dermatomyositis is a rare inflammatory disease characterized by muscle weakness and a distinctive skin rash that may in red or purple in color. Red or purple swellings or spots may also appear on the eyelids or muscles.

The condition can affect anyone, adults or children. In adults, dermatomyositis is experienced by people in their 40s to 60s while children between the age of 5 to 15 years may suffer from the disease. Dermatomyositis affects more females than males.

There's no cure for dermatomyositis but there are treatment options to manage the symptoms. Treatment can help clear the skin rash and help you regain muscle strength and function. Here are the causes, symptoms, and diagnosis and treatment for Dermatomyositis.

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Dermatomyositis: Signs & Symptoms

According to Healthline, the common signs and symptoms of dermatomyositis can be visible suddenly or gradually develop overtime. These symptoms include:

  • Rashes on sun-exposed areas, may be painful or itchy

  • Colored swelling on the upper eyelids

  • Red or purple spots on the knuckles, elbows, knees, and toes

  • Stiff, pale, and painful Joints in cold conditions

  • Scaly, rough, and dry skin

  • Hair thinning

  • Swollen, and red areas around the fingernails

  • Hard lumps under the skin

  • Muscle weakness in the neck, hip, back, and shoulders

  • Trouble in swallowing

  • Fatigue

  • Fever, and weight loss

  • Muscle aches

Dermatomyositis: Causes

The exact cause of dermatomyositis is still unknown and it is similar to the autoimmune diseases in which your immune system begins to attack your body tissues. According to Hopkins Medicine, the common causes of the disease include:

  • Abnormal genes during the birth

  • Cancer in older people

  • Autoimmune disease is when the body's immune system begins to destroy the cells

  • An infection, certain medications, or exposure to environmental triggers

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Dermatomyositis: Diagnosis

According to the doctors of the Mayo Clinic, the doctors will first discuss your health history and your symptoms. It will be followed by a physical examination and the medical tests include:

  • Blood tests to look for signs of muscle inflammation and abnormal proteins that form in autoimmune disease. The common blood tests include muscle enzyme creatine kinase and the antinuclear antibody.

  • Electromyelogram (EMG) helps find abnormal electrical activity in affected muscles.

  • MRI to look for inflammation in the body.

  • Skin or muscle biopsy

Dermatomyositis: Treatment 

According to the doctors of Cleveland Clinic, treatment options for dermatomyositis include:

  • Physical therapy includes exercises that help the body stretch and strengthen the muscles.

  • Skin treatment to avoid sun exposure and prevent skin rashes. You can consult a dermatologist to treat itchy skin rashes with anti-inflammatory steroid creams.

  • Anti-inflammatory medication to ease inflammation in the body.

  • Immunosuppressive drugs block or slow down the body's immune system.

  • Immunoglobulin is used when the body does not respond to other treatments. They are donated blood products that boost your body's immune system.

  • Surgery to remove the calcium deposits (calcinosis) under the skin if they become painful or infected.

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