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Low-dose methotrexate administered weekly is an effective corticosteroid-sparing agent for the treatment of the cutaneous manifestations of dermatomyositis.

BACKGROUND: The cutaneous manifestations of dermatomyositis can be the most prominent finding and are often difficult to treat.

OBJECTIVE: Our purpose was to determine whether low-dose methotrexate administered weekly in combination with other systemic therapies or as a sole systemic agent is effective in the treatment of the cutaneous disease in patients with dermatomyositis.

METHODS: We reviewed the records of 13 patients who received oral methotrexate in doses ranging from 2.5 to 30 mg weekly. Their skin lesions had not been completely responsive to sunscreens, topical corticosteroids, oral prednisone, oral antimalarial therapy, and, in one patient each, chlorambucil and azathioprine.

RESULTS: At the end of the study period, 4 of these 13 patients were free of all cutaneous manifestations of dermatomyositis, and another four had almost complete clearing. In the remaining five patients, methotrexate induced moderate clearing of their cutaneous lesions. In all patients, the addition of methotrexate allowed reduction or discontinuation of other therapies such as prednisone. All patients tolerated the methotrexate with minimal toxicity.

CONCLUSIONS: Low-dose oral methotrexate administered weekly is effective in treatment of the cutaneous manifestations of dermatomyositis and frequently enables a reduction or discontinuation of corticosteroid therapy.

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