by EBSCO Medical Review Board


Juvenile dermatomyositis (JDM) is a rare disease of the skin, muscles, and blood vessels.


The exact cause is not known. It is thought to be a problem with the immune system. These problems may cause swelling of muscle cells and blood vessels that can lead to harm.

Risk Factors

This problem is more common in girls. Other things that may raise the risk are:

  • Having certain gene mutations
  • Connective tissue disorders
  • Infections, such as coxsackie B virus
  • Certain drugs and procedures


The first JDM symptoms are:

  • Fever
  • Tiredness
  • Lack of hunger
  • Weight loss

As JDM gets worse, symptoms may be:

  • Skin changes, such as:
    • A purple, bumpy, or scaly skin rash on the face, eyelids, knuckles, elbows, knees, chest, and back
    • Skin sores
  • Muscle problems, such as:
    • Weakness, especially in the muscles closest to the trunk
    • Pain
    • Problems swallowing and speaking
    • Problems moving from sitting or standing
    • Falls
  • Sore throat
  • Belly pain
  • Shortness of breath
Skin Ulcer
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You will be asked about your child's symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on your child's skin and muscles.

Your child’s blood and urine will be tested. This will look for high levels of muscle enzymes.

Images may be taken. This can be done with an MRI scan.

Your child's muscles may be tested. This can be done with:


There is no cure. Some children may have times when symptoms lessen or go away. Symptoms will need to be managed. Choices are:


Medicine may be given to:

  • Ease a rash
  • Ease inflammation
  • Suppress the immune system
  • Slow down the inflammatory process


Regular exercise and physical therapy can help maintain and improve strength and flexibility. It can also prevent muscle wasting and stiffness.

Skin Protection

Skin protection is needed to control the rash and skin sores. This can be done by:

  • Limiting time spent in the sun
  • Wearing protective clothing when in the sun
  • Wearing a sunscreen with an SPF of 50 or greater


There are no known methods to prevent this health problem.


American College of Rheumatology 

Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics 


Canadian Rheumatology Association 

Health Canada  


Dermatomyositis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed August 30, 2021.

Enders FB, Bader-Meunier B, et al. Consensus-based recommendations for the management of juvenile dermatomyositis. Ann Rheum Dis. 2017 Feb;76(2):329-340.

Juvenile dermatomyositis. American College of Rheumatology website. Available at: Accessed August 30, 2021.

Juvenile dermatomyositis. Arthritis Foundation website. Available at: Accessed August 30, 2021.

Juvenile dermatomyositis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed August 30, 2021.

Juvenile dermatomyositis. Stanford Children’s Health website. Available at: Accessed August 30, 2021.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Kari Kuenn, MD
  • Review Date: 07/2021
  • Update Date: 08/30/2021