Healthpointe Medical Southern California

When the Immune System Attacks the Skin

Autoimmune disorders are characterized by the immune system attacking its own tissues, the skin being one of the most commonly affected organs. These skin-related autoimmune disorders have a wide range of symptoms that can adversely impact the quality of life in an affected person. Fortunately, there are treatments available to lessen the frequency, severity and duration of the symptoms.

The most common skin autoimmune disorders are psoriasis, scleroderma, and dermatomyositis. The information contained herein are for information purposes only, thus, detailed answers to your questions about the symptoms, causes, and treatment options, as well as preventive measures, should be directed towards a qualified dermatologist.


Known as a chronic autoimmune disorder, psoriasis symptoms can come and go throughout an affected person’s life with each outbreak being different from the rest in terms of severity and duration. The breakout can be triggered by a wide range of factors, such as skin injuries, bodily infections, sun exposure, stress, medications, and alcohol, although each person appears to have a specific set of triggers. The symptoms can be worse for people with compromised immune systems, such as HIV and cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Patients with psoriasis can experience mental distress because of the visible symptoms, such as raised, red skin patches covered by scales (i.e., flaky, silver-white patches of dead skin). While there is no cure, dermatologists can achieve two things for their patients, namely, lessen the frequency, intensity and duration of the outbreaks; and provide for relief from the pain during the outbreaks.


Scleroderma is a widespread condition affecting all connective tissues of the body including the skin. As such, it is not just skin changes that happen but changes in the muscles, organs and blood vessels, too. In the skin, the autoimmune disease manifests as patches of thickened skin (i.e., a localized form).

There is no cure for scleroderma but dermatologists can reduce the severity of the symptoms, thus, providing for relief for patients. No drug can stop the overproduction of collagen but there are drugs that can control the symptoms and complications of the disease.

These drugs are combined to achieve several results including dilation of blood vessels, suppression of the immune system, and prevention of infections as well as the relief of pain. Most of these drugs are prescription drugs so working with a qualified dermatologist is a must.


While it is an autoimmune disorder primarily affecting the muscles, dermatomyositis can also affect the skin. It is also characterized by muscle weakness, soreness, and stiffness as well as difficulty in swallowing and shortness of breath aside from the distinctive skin rash.

As with many other autoimmune disorders, there is no cure for dermatomyositis but there are available treatments to improve muscle strength and function as well as skin tone. These treatments can include corticosteroids, antimalarial medications, and rituximab as well as physical and speech therapy, intravenous immunoglobulin, and surgery.

When you suspect any of these autoimmune diseases, be sure to consult a qualified dermatologist. The earlier your disease can be diagnosed, the better your chances for successfully managing it will be.

About Healthpointe:

Healthpointe is a leading multidisciplinary healthcare organization offering a full range of medical services in practice locations throughout Southern California (Los Angeles County, Orange County, San Bernardino County, and Riverside County). Healthpointe has locations situated in over 10 cities in Southern California including Long Beach, which is conveniently located near Signal Hill, Carson, Seal Beach, Lakewood, Bellflower, Compton, Hawaiian Gardens, and Los Alamitos. As a highly regarded musculoskeletal group, we have a personal investment in the highest level of service, and we are proud of our record of excellence over the last four decades with private patients, injured workers, urgent care, personal injuries, and professional and non-professional athletes. Leading our organization is a dynamic team of healthcare professionals who continually strive to be at the forefront of medical innovation and healthcare service delivery. For more information, a complete list of services, and Healthpointe locations, visit

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