Facebook Pixel

Dermatomyositis Symptoms & Diagnosis


If you experience any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to dermatomyositis. These symptoms may be caused by other, less serious health conditions. If you experience any one of the following symptoms, see your physician.

  • Weakness
    • Especially of the hips and thighs (making it difficult to climb stairs or stand)
    • May also occur in arms or neck
  • Aching pain in legs, shoulder, arm, or neck
  • Tender muscles
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Violet-colored, bumpy, or scaly skin rash (especially around the eyes, upper back, elbows, or knuckles)
  • Itching, especially the scalp
  • Photosensitivity (skin burning or itching upon exposure to sunlight)
  • Aching and color changes (red, white, and blue) in fingers, especially in cold temperatures
  • Joint pain
  • Shortness of breath


Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. You are likely to be referred to a rheumatologist (a doctor who specializes in musculoskeletal disorders).

Tests may include the following:

  • Blood tests
  • Electromyogram (EMG) —to test the electrical responsiveness of your muscles. This test involves inserting tiny needles into affected muscles and stimulating them with tiny electrical currents.
  • Muscle biopsy —surgical removal of a small piece of muscle to examine it under a microscope
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or ultrasound—to help detect inflammation in your muscles
  • Skin biopsy—surgical removal of a small piece of skin to examine it under a microscope
  • Cancer tests—in adults, associated with cancer about 15% of the time, may be the first sign of cancer
  • CAT scan (CT) —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside of the body, in this case the chest (Dermatomyositis may be associated with lung disease.)

Skin Biopsy

Skin proceedure
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.

ASK Your Health Question

It's FREE and you'll get a response within 24 hours


POST Info, Tips & Stories

Inspire others to learn from your experiences. Tell your story!

Get Email Updates

Dermatomyositis Guide

HERWriter Guide

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!