Dermatomyositis: Antoine Seignez, doctor of pharmacy, answers your questions!
Published 10 Dec 2021 • By Antoine Seignez
Dermatomyositis is a rare autoimmune disease, affecting skin and muscles, that is relatively difficult to treat and can have serious complications. Although it can occur at any age, it usually affects people over the age of forty.
To learn more about this disease, we interviewed Antoine Seignez, doctor of pharmacy at Carenity.
What are the treatments for dermatomyositis? Should patients have a regular physical activity? Is it necessary to protect yourself from the sun if you are affected by this disease?
We explain it all in our article!
Hello PharmD Antoine Seignez, thank you for accepting to talk to us about dermatomyositis!
First of all, can you please remind us what dermatomyositis is and what symptoms it can cause?
Dermatomyositis is a rare autoimmune disease affecting skin and muscles. The immune system, the role of which is to protect the body, inexplicably attacks certain parts of the body, in this case, parts of skin and muscles, producing lesions of various extent. These skin lesions are called erythema - reddish or purple patches, located especially at the sites of friction (elbows, eyelids, etc.) or at the nail roots. Patients also experience muscle weakness and pain. This can get worse over time, to the point that patients can have difficulty swallowing and breathing. Dermatomyositis is not contagious.
Are there any other conditions associated with dermatomyositis?
Dermatomyositis is sometimes accompanied by other autoimmune diseases, which can result from the same immune system disorder. Patients with dermatomyositis sometimes also suffer with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or Gougerot-Sjögren syndrome. In addition, they are more likely to develop cancer.
How can dermatomyositis be treated?
Unfortunately, dermatomyositis is not curable. Appropriate treatment cannot cure the disease, its aim is to control the symptoms and avoid complications. The treatment consists of corticosteroid therapy, or, if it is not sufficiently effective, of immunosuppressants.
Does dermatomyositis cause disability?
Dermatomyositis can cause disability when muscle weakness and pain become too severe. To relieve the muscles, do not hesitate to sleep more than usual, and in a position that allows you to breathe better (on your back). Special physical exercises, under the supervision of a physiotherapist, seem to be effective in maintaining muscle activity. They must be adapted to each patient: relatively simple at the onset of the disease, and more and more intense as the time passes.
Can muscle weakness provoke complications?
There are cases of malnutrition in patients for whom swallowing becomes extremely difficult due to muscle weakness caused by dermatomyositis. Despite this problem, it is essential to eat well and take the time to chew food, in order to avoid that it goes down the wrong way (food can enter the respiratory tract instead of the digestive tract, which is potentially fatal if a large piece of food gets stuck).
The sun: is it dangerous for people with dermatomyositis?
To prevent the development of other skin conditions, it is recommended to use sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF) when exposed to the sun.
Thank you very much for your answers, Antoine Seignez!
Share your thoughts and your questions with the community in the comments below!