Rheumatic Skin Diseases

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The physicians at UT Southwestern Medical Center provide expert, multidisciplinary care for the full spectrum of rheumatic skin diseases. Our treatment approach aims to relieve symptoms and avoid complications.

Skilled Treatment for Rheumatic Skin Diseases

Rheumatic skin diseases are skin problems associated with rheumatic and/or musculoskeletal conditions. These include disorders characterized by skin and/or mucosal lesions; post-inflammatory changes; scarring; photosensitivity, and/or involvement of various internal organs.

UT Southwestern Medical Center offers some of the most advanced therapies available for rheumatic skin diseases, which are often difficult to diagnose and treat. The Department of Dermatology is home to the Rheumatic Skin Disease Service, which focuses on acute, subacute, and chronic cutaneous lupus erythematosus, morphea, progressive systemic sclerosis, dermatomyositis, and related disorders. The Rheumatic Skin Disease Referral Center is the only one of its kind in Texas.

Examples of Rheumatic Skin Diseases

Diagnosing Rheumatic Skin Diseases

Our experienced dermatologists are experts in evaluating symptoms and diagnosing rheumatic skin conditions. We begin with a complete evaluation, which includes a:

  • Physical exam
  • Review of personal and family medical history
  • Discussion of symptoms
  • Screening laboratory tests
  • Biopsies of lesional skin (if needed)

Because dermatologists know that there may be a rheumatologic or connective tissue disease behind certain skin conditions, a referral to a rheumatologist or other specialist at UT Southwestern may be recommended. This can help with the early detection and treatment of any underlying disease.

To confirm a diagnosis of a specific rheumatic skin disease, patients may be tested for the presence of a marker autoantibody (for example, a protein produced by the immune system). Tests that patients might need include:

  • Blood tests: Drawing of blood to check for specific autoantibodies, show how severe the condition is, and monitor whether treatment is working
  • Skin biopsy: Removal of a small sample of affected skin to examine under a microscope for signs of disease
  • Direct immunofluorescence: Removal of a small sample of normal skin for examination under a special microscope to allow detection of immune proteins deposited in patient skin

Treating Rheumatic Skin Diseases

The primary treatment for rheumatic skin diseases is corticosteroids such as prednisone. Additional medications that our doctors might prescribe include:

  • Immunosuppressive drugs, such as methotrexate, mycophenolate, azathioprine, or cyclophosphamide
  • Immunosuppressive, anti-inflammatory, or immunomodulating biological therapies
  • Antibiotic, antifungal, or antiviral medications to prevent infections

Related Conditions and Treatments

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