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Dermatomyositis - Symptoms & Treatment


Dermatomyositis (DM) is an uncommon disease marked by muscle weakness and a distinctive skin rash. The cause of this disorder is unknown. It is theorized that an autoimmune reaction or a viral infection of the skeletal muscle may cause the disease. It is characterised by an intramuscular microangiopathy mediated by a complement membrane attack complex. There is a loss of muscle capillaries, muscle ischaemia, muscle-fibre necrosis and perifascicular atrophy. Dermatomyositis is a systemic disorder that frequently affects the esophagus and lungs and, less commonly, may affect the heart. Although the disorder is rare, with a prevalence of one to 10 cases per million in adults and one to 3.2 cases per million in children, early recognition and treatment are important ways to decrease the morbidity of systemic complications. Women have dermatomyositis more often than men do. Dermatomyositis in children is distinct from the adult form. Muscle weakness may appear suddenly or occur slowly over weeks or months. The disease usually develops over weeks or months.

Dermatomyositis is a connective tissue diseases. Dermatomyositis may be associated with other autoimmune diseases such as myasthenia gravis, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, systemic sclerosis and Waldenstrom's Macroglobulinaemia. A dusky, purplish red rash may appear over the face, neck, shoulders, upper chest, and back. Joint pain, inflammation of the heart, and lung (pulmonary) disease may occur. Periods of remission, during which signs and symptoms of dermatomyositis improve spontaneously, may occur. Affected individuals may experience difficulty in performing certain functions, such as raising their arms and/or climbing stairs. A malignancy may sometimes be associated with this disorder. Most patients with dermatomyositis survive, in which case they may develop residual weakness and disability. In children with severe disease, contractures can develop. A similar condition is called polymyositis when the symptoms occur without any skin manifestations.

Causes of Dermatomyositis

The common causes and risk factor's of Dermatomyositis include the following:

  • An autoimmune reaction.
  • Genetic tendency.
  • Dysfunction of the immune system.
  • Potential cancer (which is more likely in old).
  • A viral infection of the skeletal muscle.

Symptoms of Dermatomyositis

Some sign and symptoms related to Dermatomyositis are as follows:
  • Butterfly rash.
  • Lung problems.
  • Muscle pain or tenderness.
  • Fatigue, fever and weight loss.
  • Irritation or redness or skin irritation.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Skin redness or inflammation.

Treatment of Dermatomyositis

Here is list of the methods for treating Dermatomyositis:

  • A medication called intravenous immunoglobulin has also been used in the treatment of some patients.
  • If your body doesn't respond adequately to corticosteroids, your doctor may recommend other immunosuppressive drugs such as azathioprine (Imuran) or methotrexate (Rheumatrex).
  • Physical therapy is usually recommended to preserve muscle function and avoid muscle atrophy.
  • Over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), can be used to treat any accompanying pain.
  • Surgery may be an option to remove painful calcium deposits.

 

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