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Dermatomyositis

Abstract

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Synonyms of Dermatomyositis

  • ADM
  • Childhood dermatomyositis
  • Idiopathic inflammatory myopathy
  • IIM
  • Polymyositis

Disorder Subdivisions

  • Adult Dermatomyositis
  • Dermatomyositis sine myositis
  • Juvenile (Childhood) Dermatomyositis (JDMS)

General Discussion

Dermatomyositis is a progressive connective tissue disorder characterized by inflammatory and degenerative changes of the muscles and skin. Associated symptoms and physical findings may vary widely from case to case. Muscle abnormalities may begin with aches and weakness of the muscles of the trunk, upper arms, hips, and thighs (proximal muscles). Muscles may be stiff, sore, and tender and, eventually, show signs of degeneration (atrophy). Affected individuals may experience difficulty in performing certain functions, such as raising their arms and/or climbing stairs. In addition, affected individuals may experience speech and swallowing difficulties.

Skin abnormalities associated with dermatomyositis often include a distinctive reddish-purple rash (heliotrope rash) on the upper eyelids, across the cheeks and bridge of the nose in a "butterfly" distribution, the forehead, or additional skin regions; scaling and degenerative (atrophic) changes of affected skin on the extending surfaces of the knuckles, elbows, knees, and/or other regions (Gottron's sign); an abnormal accumulation of fluid (edema) in body tissues surrounding the eyes; and/or other features.

The symptoms of childhood dermatomyositis are similar to those associated with the adult form of the disorder. However, onset is usually more sudden. In addition, abnormal accumulations of calcium deposits (calcifications) in muscle and skin tissues as well as involvement of the digestive (gastrointestinal [GI]) tract are more common in the childhood form of dermatomyositis.

Although the exact cause of dermatomyositis is not known, it is thought to be an autoimmune disorder.

Dermatomyositis Resources

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