What Is Dermatomyositis?

Dermatomyositis is a rare inflammatory disease. This condition is characterized by weakness in the muscles, as well as the presence of a rash on the skin. Dermatomyositis can affect children aged 5 to 15 Years and adults aged 40-60 years. Generally sufferers are female. Until now, there are no specific treatment methods that can cure dermatomyositis. However, treatment can be done to reduce the symptoms experienced and restore muscle strength.

Causes of Dermatomyositis
The main cause of dermatomyositis is unknown until now. However, this condition is often associated with autoimmune diseases, where the immune system attacks the body's own tissues and causes inflammation. Inflammation that occurs around muscle blood vessels will damage muscle fibers. Diseases such as viral or cancerous infections that result in a weakened immune system can also trigger dermatomyositis.

Symptoms of Dermatomyositis
The symptoms usually experienced by people with dermatomyosis include:
  • Red or bluish skin rash on the face, eyelids, chest, back, knuckles, and elbows or knees. This rash usually causes itching and pain.
  • Weakening of muscles around the neck, shoulders, thighs or hips. This condition can worsen over time.
In addition, several other symptoms that can also accompany dermatomyositis are:
  • Muscle ache.
  • Difficult to swallow.
  • Get tired quickly.
  • Fever.
  • Weight loss.
  • Lung inflammation.
  • Crowded.
  • Accumulation of calcium clots under the skin, especially in childhood sufferers.
  • Sensitive to light.
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Diagnosis of dermatomyositis
In diagnosing dermatomyositis, the doctor will ask for the chronology of the appearance of the symptoms and review the patient's medical history while carrying out a physical examination. In general, dermatomyositis is easily diagnosed due to the presence of rashes and visible muscle weakness.

To strengthen the diagnosis, the doctor will usually take further tests such as:
  • Blood test. The patient is suspected of having muscle damage if levels of muscle enzymes such as creatine kinase or CK, and aldolase increase. In addition blood tests can also be done to check for the presence of certain antibodies.
  • Chest radiograph, to detect abnormalities or inflammation in the lungs.
  • MRI, to detect inflammation in the muscles.
  • Electromyography (EMG), to measure muscle electrical activity.
  • Biopsy of the skin or muscle, to see whether changes that occur in muscle tissue or skin are caused by dermatomyositis.

Treatment of Dermatomyositis
Dermatomyositis cannot be cured. However, there are several treatment methods that can be done to relieve symptoms and reduce the potential for complications. For example through the consumption of drugs, therapy, or surgery.

Medications commonly prescribed by doctors in cases of dermatomyositis include:
  • Corticosteroids, like prednisone . This drug is used to suppress symptoms of dermatomyositis quickly, but long-term use can cause side effects.
  • Corticosteroid-sparing agents , such as azathioprine or methotrexate . This drug is used in conjunction with corticosteroids, so the dose of corticosteroids can be reduced and suppress the potential side effects of corticosteroids .
  • Rituximab . This drug is generally used if other drugs are not able to control symptoms.
  • Antimalarial drugs , such as hydroxychloroquine . This drug is used to treat skin rashes.
  • Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG). IVIG contains a healthy collection of antibodies from several people who donate blood. IVIG therapy can prevent antibodies that incorrectly attack the muscles and the skin itself.
As for some therapies that can be done as supporters, including:
  • Physiotherapy . Physiotherapy aims to improve and restore muscle strength. If needed, the doctor will provide a walker so that the patient's foot joints don't experience a lot of pressure.
  • Speech therapy . Speech therapy is generally recommended when a person has a muscle swallowing disorder. In addition to speech therapy, setting the type of food is also needed for patients who experience disorders of chewing and swallowing.
If the person has calcium accumulation under the skin, the doctor will recommend surgical removal to avoid further skin infections.

The doctor will also recommend the use of sunscreen, long-sleeved clothing, or other body armor (such as hats) when doing activities in the hot sun.

Complications of Dermatomyositis
If not treated immediately, people with dermatomyositis are at risk of developing complications such as:
  • Dysphagia .
  • Aspiration pneumonia .
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Calcium buildup in muscles, skin, and supporting tissues in the body.
  • Gastric ulcer.
  • Malnutrition.
  • Weight loss.
Some other conditions that are also at risk for dermatomyositis are:
  • Raynaud's phenomenon, which is a condition that causes the fingers and toes, cheeks, nose and ears to look pale when exposed to cold temperatures.
  • Other connective tissue diseases, such as lupus , rheumatoid arthritis , scleroderma or Sjrogen syndrome.
  • Heart disease, such as myocarditis , artemia , or heart failure.
  • Interstitial lung disease .
  • Cancer, especially cancer of the cervix, lung, pancreas, breast, ovary, or digestive tract.

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