Skin Care with Dermatomyositis
Dermatomyositis is a degenerative disease of the muscles that sometimes can be identified by a characteristic rash on the eyelids, cheeks and other parts of the body. If you have dermatomyositis, your skin is most likely fairly sensitive to environmental agents as well as some skin products, so it is important to be properly diagnosed, use appropriate skin products and take preventive measures to protect your skin from further damage and harm.
Dermatomyositis is a condition of the connective tissue that causes weakness and tenderness in the skin and muscles. This disease is similar to polymyositis, except that it involves the skin and muscles, whereas polymyositis affects only the muscles. Dermatomyositis is more common in women and can appear at any stage in your life. The symptoms can either gradually manifest themselves over time or develop rapidly.
Signs and Symptoms
The cause of dermatomyositis is an inflammation of the muscles that causes muscle tearing and the destruction of muscle cells. As the progression of the disease occurs, your muscles become weaker and the destroyed muscle tissue is replaced with useless, thick scar tissue that obstructs the function and further development of the muscles. Red rashes on the surface of the skin accompany the inflammation of your weakening muscles that lay underneath. The rash is characterized by red and purple discoloration; it surrounds your joints, including knuckles, elbows, toes and knees, as well as the eyelids, face, neck, shoulders, thighs and back.
The causes of the disease are unknown. Healthcentral.com explains that your immune system may respond abnormally to foreign substances in the body, which produce excessive amounts of antibodies that cause inflammation in the muscles. The Mayo Clinic also explains that muscle inflammation can be caused by bacteria, parasites or viruses, although some people may simply be genetically predisposed to the disease.
Doctors can often make a preliminary diagnosis of the disease based on the presence its characteristic rashes--they usually form above the eyelids, on the cheeks and across the knuckles. Blood tests are done to detect and measure muscle enzymes like creatine and aldolase. A doctor may perform an electromyogram on you, which assesses and detects the movement and function of your muscles. The most direct test involves muscle biopsy, or removal of muscle fiber from one of your affected muscles.
Common treatment for dermatomyositis is the use of corticosteroids or drugs that destroy abnormal cells, as well as physical and massage therapy or surgery. If you have dermatomyositis, your skin will most likely be extra sensitive to the environment and skin products. Protect your skin from the sun by avoiding the sun between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and wearing protective clothing or using high-protection sunblock of SPF 39 or greater as well as UVA or UVB protection. In addition, use lip balms that contain sunscreen. You should avoid wearing make-up, especially if your rash is located on your eyes and cheeks.
Showers are generally better than baths. When you bathe, you should bathe for no longer than 10 minutes, and then quickly and gently pat your skin dry with a towel. Washing your body and skin with water and soap can cause greater damage to the skin, as they tend to strip the skin of its natural oil and moisture. Therefore, you should use skin lubricants or moisturizers immediately after washing to preserve the skin's protective oils, and apply these products again throughout the day. Creams, lotions, oils, gels and sprays should be used liberally to help reduce dry, irritated skin. Scented lotions should also not be used, as certain chemicals in these lotions can cause irritations or reactions to the skin. To alleviate itching, products that contain pramoxine or menthol and camphor are generally safe to use.
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