Integral Rheumatology & Immunology Specialists
Rheumatologists located in Plantation, FL
Dermatomyositis is known by two key symptoms — muscle weakness and skin rashes — but in many cases, skin problems are the first to appear. Dr. Guillermo Valenzuela and Dr. Marilu Colon at Integral Rheumatology & Immunology Specialists encourage you to come in for an examination as soon as you notice symptoms, so that you can get early treatment. To learn more about dermatomyositis, call the office in Plantation, Florida, or use online booking to schedule an appointment.
Dermatomyositis Q & A
What is Dermatomyositis?
Dermatomyositis is an inflammatory muscle disease. It develops when an abnormal immune response damages small blood vessels in your muscles and the connective tissues of your skin. As a result, inflammation develops that leads to tissue damage.
Although the primary symptoms involve your muscles, dermatomyositis also causes skin changes. In about 40% of cases, skin symptoms appear before muscle weakness develops.
Dermatomyositis can occur at any age, but most often appears in children between the ages of five and 15, or in adults in their late 40s to early 60s.
What are the Symptoms of Dermatomyositis?
Symptoms typically develop slowly over a few weeks or months, but in some cases, they appear suddenly. You’ll experience:
- Muscle Weakness: Muscle weakness usually affects both sides of the body, involving muscles near your trunk such as your thighs, hips, shoulders, upper arms, and neck. Your muscles may also be stiff and sore. The muscle weakness is progressive, leading to muscle atrophy. Over time, it may also affect other areas of your body, including muscles in the gastrointestinal tract, lungs, and cardiovascular system.
- Skin Changes: Skin changes include a characteristic reddish-purple rash on your upper eyelids, forehead, cheeks, and nose. It’s also common to develop a reddish rash on your upper arms, upper legs, and upper trunk as well on joints such as the knees, elbows, and knuckles. Rashes caused by dermatomyositis tend to be itchy and painful. When the rash goes away, the skin may have a brownish color or scarring. In some cases, calcium deposits develop in your skin.
Some patients develop additional symptoms, such as:
- Sensitivity to the sun
- Nail discolorations
- Scalp rashes with hair loss
- Shortness of breath
- Joint pain
How is Dermatomyositis Treated?
Your individualized treatment plan may include any of the following:
- Medication: Glucocorticoids are often the first line of treatment. These medications reduce inflammation and swelling, while also suppressing the immune system. Oral glucocorticoids may be used for muscle symptoms, while skin symptoms may need a topical glucocorticoid. Your doctor may also prescribe other types of medication to suppress your immune system or anti-malarial medications to treat skin rashes.
- Other Therapies: Physical therapy may help maintain muscle strength and flexibility. If muscles used for swallowing are weak, specialized therapy can help you learn ways to compensate for the problem.
Dermatomyositis is a complex disease that requires customized treatment from specialists, so call Integral Rheumatology & Immunology Specialists or book an appointment online.