Methotrexate is given weekly as an intramuscular injection of 15 to 25 mg. Side effects are rare and include leukopenia and hypersensitivity interstitial pneumonitis. Hepatic fibrosis is the most severe potential sequela of long-term therapy. Patients with concomitant alcohol abuse and/or morbid obesity are more likely to develop hepatic fibrosis and therefore should not be treated with methotrexate. It is prudent to obtain a baseline chest radiograph and to monitor complete blood count, liver function and renal function every two weeks until the patient is receiving oral therapy, and every one to three months thereafter. Before methotrexate therapy is initiated, the risks of treatment and the possible need for a liver biopsy should be discussed with the patient.
Following absorption, budesonide is subject to high first pass metabolism (80% to 90%). In vitro experiments in human liver microsomes demonstrated that budesonide is rapidly and extensively biotransformed, mainly by CYP3A4, to its 2 major metabolites, 6β-hydroxy budesonide and 16α-hydroxy prednisolone. The corticosteroid activity of these metabolites was negligible (less than 1/100) in relation to that of the parent compound. In vivo investigations with intravenous doses in healthy subjects were in agreement with the in vitro findings.
Physical therapy is directed at preventing atrophy and contractures, and is particularly necessary in patients with calcinosis and muscle involvement. Technique should focus initially on passive stretching and splinting, with inclusion of more aggressive strength-building therapy once inflammation is controlled. The use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen is recommended in all patients with dermatomyositis and has the greatest benefit in patients who are photosensitive. Sun-avoidance techniques should be used, including the use of protective clothing. For control of severe pruritus, antihistamines (such as hydroxyzine [Atarax] or doxepin [Sinequan]) are recommended. For further control of the erythematous and pruritic skin changes, a class I (super-high potency) or class II (high potency) topical corticosteroid is recommended. 3 , 10