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Topical tacrolimus 0.1% ointment for refractory skin disease in dermatomyositis: a pilot study.

BACKGROUND: Dermatomyositis is an inflammatory disease primarily involving the striated muscles and skin. Muscle disease usually responds to aggressive therapy with systemic corticosteroids. However, cutaneous lesions can be very resistant to systemic and topical therapies, even in combination. More treatment options are needed. Tacrolimus is an immunomodulator now available in a topical ointment.

OBJECTIVE: To study the treatment of patients with refractory cutaneous lesions of dermatomyositis using topical tacrolimus 0.1% ointment.

METHODS: Six patients with recalcitrant cutaneous lesions of dermatomyositis were included in this brief observational study: five adults and one pediatric patient. Five patients had classic dermatomyositis and one had dermatomyositis sine myositis.

RESULTS: All had some degree of improvement of their dermatologic disease following 6-8 weeks of treatment with topical tacrolimus 0.1% ointment. Two had dramatic responses (>90% improvement), one had moderate (40-90%) improvement and three had minimal (20-40%) improvement.

CONCLUSIONS: The dermatologic manifestations of dermatomyositis can be very difficult to treat. Multiple systemic and topical therapies have been studied. Combinations of treatments are often used, sometimes still not successfully. The results of this brief observational study using topical tacrolimus ointment for the treatment of refractory cutaneous lesions of dermatomyositis are encouraging. Topical tacrolimus was a useful adjunct in the treatment of the dermatologic component of dermatomyositis in adults and children in this pilot study.

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