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Types of medications for dermatomyositis and polymyositis

There is no cure for dermatomyositis (DM) or polymyositis (PM). But certain treatments are available today. These may help control and improve symptoms for some people.

Below you’ll find a list of some of the types of treatment that are prescribed today for DM and PM. As with all medicines, these treatments come with risks and benefits. Ask your doctor about possible side effects associated with these options, and which ones might be right for you.

Steroids: A steroid (also called a corticosteroid) blocks your immune system from attacking healthy tissue, such as your muscles. It also controls inflammation and may help to improve muscle strength.

Immunosuppressant agents: An immunosuppressant also works to stop your immune system from doing harm or causing inflammation. One type of immunosuppressant treatment is called intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG). IVIG is purified blood plasma from healthy donors. The plasma is given to you as an infusion.

Other agents: Biologic therapies target specific cells in your immune system. Other types of treatment are thought to work differently with your immune system.

Learn about a treatment option for DM and PM

Regular blood tests are an important part of treatment

Once you are on a treatment plan, your doctor will monitor your symptoms. He or she will check for improvement in any problem areas, such as:

  •  Muscle strength
  •  Rash (for dermatomyositis)
  •  Breathing
  •  Swallowing

Regular blood tests will be a part of your treatment. The results from the tests will help your doctor determine whether your condition is improving. These tests will check for creatine phosphokinase or CPK levels in your blood. CPK is a type of enzyme found in your skeletal muscles. When the muscles are damaged, they can cause CPK to enter your bloodstream.

Testing will alert your doctor when your blood has a high level of CPK. If the results show a high CPK level, you and your doctor may discuss further ways to help manage your disease.

What is treatment-related myopathy?

Taking certain medications may cause muscle weakness. Only your doctor can tell the difference between muscle weakness caused by your condition and muscle weakness caused by medications. Talk to your doctor about ways to help manage muscle weakness.

Physical therapy and treatment

Along with medicine, physical therapy may also play a big part in your treatment plan. In fact, exercise may help to strengthen damaged muscles. And it may also help to improve your ability to perform day-to-day tasks. Ask your doctor about adding physical therapy to your treatment plan.

Learn more about the benefits of exercise.

More from DM/PM &

Getting diagnosed

Learn about the tests to confirm if you have DM or PM.

Meet the treatment team.

Learn about the types of healthcare providers who may be involved in your treatment.


Living with dermatomyositis since 2012

"I would really recommend to be very open and honest with your doctor."

Steroid (also called corticosteroid)

A medicine used to reduce inflammation of the skin, muscles, and other body systems.



Enzymes are used for all body functions. These proteins cause a chemical change. For example, enzymes break down foods we eat for digestion.



The immune system’s response to an injury that results in pain, redness, and swelling.


creatine phosphokinase

Creatine phosphokinase (CPK)—A type of enzyme found in your skeletal muscles. When these muscles are damaged, they can cause CPK to enter your bloodstream. A simple blood test can let your doctor know if you have a high level of CPK in your blood. This can help diagnose dermatomyositis or polymyositis.


biologic therapies

A type of treatment that targets specific cells in your immune system.