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Dermatomyositis
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Dermatomyositis

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WOMEN'S HEALTH

Hair/Nails/Skin

Although dermatomyositis may occur at any age, it mostly affects adults in their late 40s to early 60s or children between 5 and 15 years of age. Women have it more often than men do. Dermatomyositis in children is distinct from the adult form. The disease usually develops over weeks or months.

Dermatomyositis is a relatively rare disease marked by muscle weakness and a distinctive skin rash. Because of similarities in signs, symptoms and treatment, it's often discussed in conjunction with polymyositis. Both conditions fall into the category of inflammatory muscle diseases - myo means "muscles" in Greek; itis means "inflamed." Derma, which means "skin," implies the skin-related signs and symptoms that accompany the muscle inflammation.

 

Coping skills

Living with a chronic autoimmune disease can make you wonder at times whether you're up to the challenge. Though it isn't always easy, you're tougher than you think. To help you cope, try supplementing your medical care with the following suggestions:

  • Know your illness. Read all you can about dermatomyositis and other muscle and autoimmune disorders. Attend lectures and talk to other people who have a similar condition. Don't be afraid to ask your doctor any questions that you may have concerning the illness, your diagnosis or your treatment plan.

  • Be a part of your medical team. Consider yourself, your doctor and any other medical experts involved as a united front in the fight against your disease. Following the treatment plan you agreed on is vital. Keep your doctor updated on any new signs or symptoms you may experience. Regularly perform the physical exercises prescribed for you. A speech therapist can help you with swallowing difficulties and a registered dietitian might help you with preparing easy-to-eat foods.

  • Treat yourself well. Don't wait until you're exhausted to rest. This will only set you back further as your body tries to recuperate. Learning to pace yourself can help you maintain a consistent level of energy, accomplish just as much and feel better emotionally. Learn to say no effectively and ask for help when you need it. Take hot baths, stretch, exercise.

  • Wear sunscreen. Areas affected by your rash are more sensitive to the sun, so wear protective clothing or high-protection sunscreen when you go out.

Use electric appliances, power tools and other aids. Save your energy in the bathroom, in the kitchen or at the workbench by using electric appliances such as toothbrushes, can openers and screwdrivers. If your ability to walk is impaired, consider using an aid such as a cane, walker or wheelchair.

 

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
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