How is dermatomyositis treated?

Treatment for dermatomyositis begins with seeking medical care from your health care provider. To determine whether you have dermatomyositis, you will be asked questions about your symptoms and when they occur. You may be asked to undergo diagnostic testing.

Treatments for dermatomyositis

Dermatomyositis requires specific regimens to treat and manage symptoms. There is no cure for the condition. Due to the inflammatory characteristics of this disorder, corticosteroid medications are used to decrease the immune system response. These medications are the most common treatment for symptoms associated with dermatomyositis, and they are effective in reducing inflammation, redness and pain.

Treatment options include:

  • Antimalarial medications, including hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil)
  • Corticosteroids to reduce inflammation
  • Immunosuppressant medications such as cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan)
  • Intravenous immunoglobulins to reduce the immune response
  • Pain relieving medications such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Steroid-sparing agents (alternative drugs that modify the disease course) such as azathioprine (Imuran)

Overall, treatment should include a lifestyle plan to optimize health and reduce symptoms. A well-balanced nutrition plan, regular physical activity, and routine testing to monitor disease are all important treatment options for people with dermatomyositis. Other types of treatment include physical therapy, speech therapy, and dietary counseling.

What you can do to improve your dermatomyositis

In addition to following your health care provider’s instructions and taking all medication as prescribed, you can improve your symptoms by:

  • Ensuring adequate hydration by drinking plenty of water and fluids
  • Following a balanced nutrition plan
  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Having routine follow-up appointments with your healthcare provider
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight

What are the potential complications of dermatomyositis?

You can help minimize your risk of serious complications by following the treatment plan you and your health care professional design specifically for you. Complications of dermatomyositis include:

  • Calcinosis (calcium deposits beneath the skin)
  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Lung disease
  • Myocarditis (infection of the middle layer of the heart wall)
  • Pulmonary aspiration (inhaling blood, vomited material or other substances into lungs)


  1. Dermatomyositis. PubMed Health, a service of the NLM from the NIH.
  2. NINDS dermatomyositis information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
  3. Callen JP, Wortmann RL. Dermatomyositis. Clin Dermatol 2006; 24:363.

What is dermatomyositis?

Dermatomyositis is an inflammatory condition that affects the muscles and is characterized by muscle pain and skin rashes. It may result in chronic inflammation of your muscles and skin, which causes muscle pain, weakness, atrophy (reduction in size), and dysfunction. In addition, a purple or dark red rash may occur anywhere on the skin, but most typically appears on the eyelids and in pla... Read more about dermatomyositisintroduction


What are the symptoms of dermatomyositis?

Dermatomyositis causes inflammation and weakness in the muscles and produces characteristic skin rashes. Symptoms can vary in intensity among individuals and may occur daily or only occasionally. However, at any time, symptoms may become severe.

Common symptoms of dermatomyositis

You may experience dermatomyositis symptoms daily or only occasionally. At times, any of th... Read more about dermatomyositissymptoms


What causes dermatomyositis?

The cause of dermatomyositis is poorly understood. It may be related to an infection. It is also thought that there is a genetic association with the development of dermatomyositis. Dermatomyositis is similar to autoimmune diseases because the immune system targets the muscle and skin tissues. Once you develop dermatomyositis, you may have periods of remission followed by flare-ups of symptoms.... Read more about dermatomyositiscauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 9, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Bones, Joints and Muscles

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