Dermatomyositis - Symptoms, Risk factors and Treatment

Dermatomyositis is an inflammatory myopathy condition that occurs with a rash. It is a rare disease that causes muscle weakness due to inflammatory response. The exact cause of dermatomyositis is unknown, but it has similarities to autoimmune diseases. 

The common symptoms of it are distinctive skin rash, muscle weakness, and inflammatory myopathy, or inflamed muscles. It can affect both children and adults. In children, it occurs mostly during the age of 5 to 15. Until now, there is no such cure for it. But it can be managed through symptomatic treatment that can help regain muscle strength, muscle function and help clear rashes too. 


Symptoms


The most common signs and symptoms of dermatomyositis are;


Rashes and muscle weakness


The distinctive sign of dermatomyositis is an itchy rash, violet in color, or red dusky. It usually appears on the face, eyelids, knuckles, chest, back, elbows, or knees. Along with rashes, it causes progressive muscle weakness, which usually involves the muscles that are nearest to the trunk like the ones of your hips, thighs, shoulders, upper arms, and neck. The muscle weakness is progressive, which means it increases with time and involves more areas. Moreover, it involves both sides of your body, right and left both and worsens over time. 


The other symptoms of dermatomyositis are;


  • fatigue

  • unintentional weight loss

  • fever

  • problems swallowing

  • lung problems

  • hard calcium deposits underneath the skin that mostly occur in children

  • muscle pain

  • muscle tenderness



A subtype of dermatomyositis includes rash but not muscle weakness, it is known as amyopathic dermatomyositis. 



 Causes



The exact cause of dermatomyositis is unknown, but it has similarities to autoimmune diseases. An autoimmune disease means the one which occurs when the cells of your body attack your own body and damage them. It occurs when your body perceives its own cells as foreign substances and activates the immune system against them releasing antibodies, which eventually destroys the body’s own cells. An autoimmune disease can be managed by prescribing immunosuppressant drugs which help calm and suppress the hyperactive immune system.



Risk factors 


Dermatomyositis can attack anyone, but according to experts it mostly attacks children aged between 5 and 15 and adults aged between 40 to 60. Moreover, it can also occur in people having a compromised immune system, like those who are taking corticosteroids (immunosuppressants) for a long time or those who have had a viral infection recently. 

Other factors that can play a role in causing dermatomyositis are;


  • Environmental factors like sun exposure

  • Certain medications 

  • Smoking



Complications


Dermatomyositis can cause the following complications;


Weight loss


Dermatomyositis can affect the muscles of the esophagus, which makes it difficult to swallow food. Due to this, the person can not eat properly and weight loss occurs eventually. 


Pneumonia 


Dermatomyositis can affect the muscles of the esophagus which makes it difficult to swallow the food. Due to this, the person can inhale food, leading to aspiration pneumonia. It occurs when the food enters your lungs along with the breath. Aspiration pneumonia can be a difficult situation to deal with at times.


Breathing difficulty 


If dermatomyositis affects your chest muscles, it can make breathing difficult for you. 


Calcium deposits


Dermatomyositis can cause calcium to deposit underneath your skin. This tendency is more common in children as compared to adults. 



Conclusion 



Dermatomyositis is an inflammatory myopathy disease that occurs with a rash. It is a rare disease that causes muscle weakness due to inflammatory response. The exact cause of dermatomyositis is unknown, but it has similarities to autoimmune diseases. The common symptoms of it are distinctive skin rash, muscle weakness, and inflammatory myopathy, or inflamed muscles. It can affect both children and adults. In children, it occurs mostly during the age of 5 to 15. Until now, there is no such cure for it. But it can be managed through symptomatic treatment that can help regain muscle strength, function and help clear rashes too. 


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