The skin rash symptoms that come with dermatomyositis are caused by blood vessels that have become inflamed under the skin. The rash may appear on the back, upper chest, elbow, knees, knuckles, cheeks or eyelids, notes the National Institutes of Health These swollen blood vessels, which also appear in the muscles, are a condition called vasculitis.
This disease can sometimes affect the joints and the esophagus, as well as the heart and lungs. The exact cause of dermatomyositis is not fully determined, but it is theorized that the disease may be viral in nature.
Although the disease can affect anyone at any age, it is more prevalent among women than in men. Dermatomyositis is more prevalent among African-American women, according to the Myositis Association. The disease commonly appears more in children between 5 and 15 years old and among adults between 40 and 60 years old.
Apart from the rash that appears on the skin, other signs that may indicate dermatomyositis include dry, rough or scaly skin; weakness and inability to get up from a fall or a seated position; swollen areas around the fingernails and fatigue.
The treatment for dermatomyositis focuses on managing the swelling in the blood vessels. Anti-inflammatory medicines such as corticosteroids are prescribed to patients, as well as drugs that suppress the immune system. The doctor will lower the doses of these medicines as the patient recovers. Although the disease may go away in some people, others may have to take a drug called prednisone to manage the disease for life.