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Autoimmune Diseases in Dermatology

Experienced Skin Autoimmune Disorder Care

There are nearly 100 autoimmune diseases that affect tissues and organs. They are chronic diseases that often affect blood vessels, red blood cells, connective tissues, glands, muscles, joints, and skin. The knowledgeable, fellowship-trained dermatologists at Rochester Regional Health’s Dermatology Program have extensive knowledge and experience in diagnosing and treating autoimmune skin disorders, including cutaneous lupus, psoriasis, scleroderma, vasculitis, and vitiligo.

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What are Skin Autoimmune Disorders?

An autoimmune disorder or disease of the skin occurs when your body’s immune system cannot tell the difference between healthy tissue or a foreign substance. Your immune system is primed to respond to bacteria, harmful substances, or viruses that invade your body. When your body attacks healthy tissue that it would typically ignore, it’s having an autoimmune response.

Symptoms of Autoimmune Disorder of the Skin

Autoimmune diseases can affect many parts of your body, including your skin. Because your skin is so visible, we often see symptoms of autoimmune disorders on your skin first. They may include:

  • Blisters
  • Lesions
  • Rashes
  • Scaly patches

If you are experiencing these symptoms or are suddenly feeling fatigued, please reach out to your dermatologist for a full skin exam. 

Common Autoimmune Disorders of the Skin We Treat

While autoimmune diseases are not curable, currently, we can help you manage flare-ups with personalized treatment options. Our providers have extensive experience in treating:

  • Dermatitis Herpetiformis – typically caused by celiac disease, this is a flare-up of itchy or rash-covered skin that erupts after you drink or eat products with gluten in them
  • Dermatomyositis – this autoimmune disease of the skin and muscle tissue is characterized by violet rashes, itchy rashes, and muscle weakness that either happens suddenly or slowly over time.
  • Lupus of the Skin – skin lupus occurs when your immune system attacks healthy skin cells by accident and damages your skin. It can cause itching, pain, redness, and can scar your skin.
  • Morphea/Scleroderma – while rare, scleroderma involves the hardening and tightening of your skin and your connective tissues.
  • Vasculitis – vasculitis is characterized by inflammation of your blood vessels, which can result in organ and tissue damage.
  • Vitiligo – this condition occurs when your skin loses its melanocytes (or pigment cells), which can lead to discolored patches in different areas of your body, including your hair, skin, and mucous membranes.

Treating Autoimmune Disorders of the Skin

No cures currently exist for autoimmune or blistering skin diseases, but treatments are effective at slowing their progression and relieving symptoms.

During your consultation with our expert Rochester Regional Health dermatology team, your provider will consider your medical history, overall health, and preferences when recommending treatment options. We prioritize taking your opinion and life into account. 

Corticosteroids

Both topical (applied directly to your skin) and oral (systemic) corticosteroids suppress your immune system and work to slow the progression of your disease. This is a great option for treating milder autoimmune disease cases.

Immunosuppressive Medications

Immunosuppressive and immunomodulatory medications work to control the inflammatory effects of your autoimmune disease while also changing your immune response. They require a prescription and physician monitoring to ensure they’re doing their job correctly.

Intravenous Immunoglobulin

Intravenous immunoglobulin is a purified blood product full of healthy antibodies, which can prevent or reduce the risk of infections and neutralize the damaging antibodies within your body. Repeat infusions may be required with this treatment option.

Rituximab

This treatment option works by targeting specific areas in your immune system to reduce inflammation. Like other treatments, it requires regular monitoring by your physician.

Whatever treatment you and your provider decide upon, you’ll be in good hands. Our dermatologists prioritize continuing education, ensuring they’re at the forefront of new treatment options and well-prepared for whatever your skin may bring.

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Conquer Skin Concerns

The first step towards taking care of your skin is a full skin exam. We’ll examine your skin, looking for obvious and sneaky concerns before we come up with a personalized dermatological plan for you. Don’t wait - get screened today.
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