What is Dermatomyositis?

Dermatomyositis

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The world of chronic pain conditions is full of autoimmune diseases. These conditions are a source of constant agony to the people who live with them, and a mystery to everyone else. After all, we know so little about what causes autoimmune conditions and it seems like there is a never-ending supply of new ones that you’ve never heard of. For instance, look at dermatomyositis, a very rare but dangerous autoimmune condition.

But what is dermatomyositis? What causes it? And how can it be treated?

What Is Dermatomyositis?

Dermatomyositis is a serious condition. But luckily, it’s also quite rare. Essentially, it’s a condition that presents with a serious rash. People with dermatomyositis suffer from a scaly skin condition that spreads across the face, arms, legs, and hands. That’s probably the most obvious side effect of the condition, but that’s not the only symptom. And the rash, while painful and unsightly, is not the most serious symptom either.

In addition, dermatomyositis causes muscle weakness throughout the body and swollen tender joints. In fact, there’s almost nothing in the body that the condition doesn’t affect. The lungs can become weakened and scarred. The lining of the heart can become thicker and damaged, which can lead to serious health problems or death.

And dermatomyositis can affect the intestines, leading to internal bleeding or even holes in the GI tract. The muscles you use for swallowing gradually get weaker, which makes eating or even speaking more difficult. Finally, people who suffer from it often have swelling around the eyes. So obviously, the condition is an extremely serious one, and to make matters worse, no one is entirely sure what causes it.

What Causes It?

We aren’t sure exactly what causes dermatomyositis, but we do know that it is probably an autoimmune condition of some kind. An autoimmune condition is one where the immune system begins to attack the body. In a normal immune system, white blood cells attack bacteria and viruses and destroy them, which keep you healthy. But for someone with an autoimmune condition, the immune system begins attacking your own tissue instead. This gradually breaks them down and can lead to serious damage to organs like the kidneys and heart.

And there are a few good reasons to believe that this is what’s going on with dermatomyositis. There is an obvious connection between dermatomyositis and other known autoimmune conditions like lupus, which cause similar symptoms like muscle weakness and tenderness. And the rash that comes with the condition is extremely similar to the symptoms of psoriasis, another known autoimmune condition.

But interestingly, dermatomyositis seems to be linked closely with cancer. About 30 percent of people with the condition developed it after having cancer, which suggests that cancer might be triggering the autoimmune response. But more research into the subject is needed for us to know for sure.

How Is It Treated?

There’s no cure for dermatomyositis, but there are ways to treat the symptoms. The first line of treatment is usually corticosteroids. These are a hormone your body produces to help fight inflammation, and your doctor will probably prescribe them to handle the inflammation of dermatomyositis. And if that

And they may also prescribe an antimalarial medication which is effective for many autoimmune conditions like dermatomyositis. These drugs are usually used to fight the parasitic organisms that cause malaria, but studies have shown that they are effective for treating a wide variety of common autoimmune disorder symptoms. They work by regulating the immune system and preventing it from attacking your tissue.

This is the basic principle behind another common kind of drug prescribed for dermatomyositis: immunosuppressants. These drugs work by lowering the number of antibodies that do the work of the immune system.  This helps to combat the symptoms of dermatomyositis but they also make you more vulnerable to other illnesses, since your immune system is a bit weaker.

Finally, you may even be put on intravenous immunoglobulin, which is a medical product made from purified blood that will be injected directly into your veins. It has lots of healthy antibodies that will help fight the dangerous antibodies. But this procedure often has to be done regularly to be effective.

Many people find that these treatments are effective, but everyone is different. Talk to your doctor to figure out which combination of therapies is best for you. So, do you have dermatomyositis? What treatment works for you? Let us know in the comments.

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