Dermatomyositis may be caused by an autoimmune reaction

The cause of dermatomyositis is unknown. It is theorized that an autoimmune reaction or a viral infection of the skeletal muscle may cause the disease. It can affect people at any age, but most commonly occurs in people 40 to 60 years old, or in children from 5 to 15 years old.

It affects women much more often than men. Muscle weakness may appear suddenly or occur slowly over weeks or months. There may be difficulty with raising the arms over the head, rising from a sitting position, and climbing stairs.

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.

A malignancy may sometimes be associated with dermatomyositis. A similar condition is called polymyositis when the symptoms occur without any skin manifestations.

Symptoms of dermatomyositis

  • Muscles weak, stiff or sore
  • Butterfly rash
  • Upper eyelids purple/violet colored
  • Muscle weakness
  • Red, dusky skin rash
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Skin redness or inflammation

Treatment for dermatomyositis

The disease is treated with corticosteroid medications or other immunosuppressive drugs. When an improvement of muscle strength is achieved, the medication is slowly tapered. Maintenance therapy with prednisone is often continued indefinitely.

If the condition is associated with a tumor, the condition may improve if the tumor is removed.

Remissions and recovery have been reported, especially in children. In adults, death may result from severe and prolonged muscle weakness, malnutrition, pneumonia, or respiratory failure. The outcome is usually worse if cardiac or pulmonary involvement is present.

A healthy lifestyle is encouraged, including good general nutrition. Adequate rest and relaxation can help maintain energy levels. Attempts should be made to avoid fatigue, stress, temperature extremes, and illness to reduce factors that may trigger dermatomyositis.

Our suggestion for an appropriate and balanced health supplement to reduce the factors triggering dermatomyositis


Please read the Usage Agreement carefully before using this website. If you do not agree to all provisions found in the Usage Agreement then do not use this website. By using this website you are agreeing to the provisions found in the Usage Agreement.

Usage Agreement

footer for dermatomyositis page