Juvenile Dermatomyositis: Symptoms and treatment tips for rare autoimmune disease | Health - Hindustan Times
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Juvenile Dermatomyositis: Symptoms and treatment tips for rare autoimmune disease

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi
Mar 19, 2024 02:55 PM IST

Health expert reveals tips for coping with the symptoms of Juvenile Dermatomyositis and managing the rare autoimmune disease through treatment and therapy

Dermatomyositis is a rare inflammatory disease that affects the muscles and skin, often causing muscle weakness and a distinctive skin rash. This condition can occur at any age but it most commonly develops in adults in their 40s to early 60s and in children between the ages of 5 and 15.

Juvenile Dermatomyositis: Symptoms and treatment tips for rare autoimmune disease (Photo by The Celiac Scene)
Juvenile Dermatomyositis: Symptoms and treatment tips for rare autoimmune disease (Photo by The Celiac Scene)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Himanshi Chaudhary, Consultant Clinical Immunology and Pediatric Rheumatology at Alpha Superspeciality Clinic, shared, “When it occurs in children, it is called juvenile dermatomyositis (JDM). Despite its severity, JDM often goes undiagnosed due to lack of awareness. Many parents and even healthcare professionals mistake its symptoms for common childhood ailments. This delay in diagnosis can lead to irreversible damage.”

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According to her, the hallmark symptom of dermatomyositis is a skin rash, which typically appears on the face, knuckles, elbows, knees, chest and back. Dr Himanshi Chaudhary revealed, “This rash can vary in appearance, from a purple or reddish discolouration to a patchy, scaly rash. In addition to the skin rash, individuals with dermatomyositis often experience muscle weakness, particularly in the muscles closest to the trunk of the body, such as those in the hips, thighs, shoulders, and upper arms. This can lead to difficulties with activities such as standing up from a sitting position, climbing stairs, or lifting objects.”

While the exact cause of dermatomyositis is unknown, it is believed to be an autoimmune disorder, in which the body's immune system mistakenly attacks its own muscles and skin. Hence, Dr Himanshi Chaudhary insisted that early diagnosis and treatment are crucial in managing JDM and preventing complications such as calcinosis (calcium deposits under the skin) and lung disease.

She highlighted that the treatment usually involves -

• Medication: Corticosteroids are often the first line of treatment, followed by other immunosuppressive drugs if necessary.

• Physical Therapy: to improve muscle strength and function.

• Regular Check-ups: to monitor the child’s condition and adjust treatment as needed.

Increasing public awareness about JDM is a collective responsibility. Together, we can ensure early diagnosis and treatment for JDM, improving the quality of life for affected children.

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