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Connective Tissue Disease

Lupus Erythematosus is a chronic inflammatory disease that can affect the skin and other organs. It is characterized by sensitivity to sunlight, which can lead to an itchy, painful or burning sensation in the skin along with a red to purple, scaly or even brown rash usually in sun exposed areas. Sometimes, lupus can cause deep knots in the fatty part of the skin. Because lupus can affect the entire body, including the blood, joints, and kidneys, it is important to have a thorough evaluation to investigate for that possibility. Often an in office procedure called a skin biopsy is needed to help confirm this diagnosis. Please visit the Lupus Foundation of America website at www.lupus.org to learn more about lupus.

Scleroderma is another chronic inflammatory skin disease that causes a thickening of the skin and sometimes affects the underlying tissues or structures. When it affects other organs, such as the lungs or heart, it can lead to breathing problems or heart disease, and can even be fatal. Besides the skin the next most commonly affected systems involve the joints and gastrointestinal systems, usually with trouble swallowing or properly moving food along the digestive tract. Skin biopsy is sometimes needed to help confirm the diagnosis. For more information about this condition or to find a support group, please read more from the Scleroderma Foundation at www.scleroderma.org.

Dermatomyositis is a skin and muscle disease that is frequently associated with an underlying cancer. In that setting, the rash improves or worsens along with the cancer's response to treatment. Because the rash of dermatomyositis can precede the onset of cancer development, age appropriate cancer screening is an important part of the evaluation and treatment.