Penn Dermatology

Autoimmune Disease

Penn dermatologists have extensive experience and expertise in diagnosing and treating autoimmune disorders, including cutaneous lupus, dermatomyositis, morphea/scleroderma and vasculitis.

What are Autoimmune Disorders of the Skin?

Autoimmune diseases or disorders occur when the body's immune system cannot distinguish between healthy body tissue and an antigen or foreign substance. Normally, the immune system reacts to viruses, bacteria or foreign harmful substances that invade the body. An autoimmune disease causes the body's immune response to destroy healthy body tissue by mistake or to react to healthy tissue it would normally ignore.

There are more than 80 types of known autoimmune disorders that affect organs and tissues. Autoimmune diseases are often chronic diseases that affect:

  • Blood vessels and red blood cells
  • Connective tissues
  • Glands such as the thyroid or pancreas
  • Joints
  • Muscles
  • Skin

Treatment for Autoimmune Disorders of the Skin at Penn

Patients who choose or are referred to Penn Dermatology for treatment of autoimmune disorders are assured exceptional and compassionate care. Several of Penn's dermatologists serve on boards or participate on committees of distinguished national organizations, including the Rheumatologic Dermatology Society, Lupus Foundation of America, International Pemphigus and Pemphigoid Foundation, the Scleroderma Foundation and the American College of Rheumatology.

Penn dermatologists are frequently listed under local and national listings of "Top Docs" in the area of autoimmune idsease.

At Penn Dermatology, patients can seek comprehensive treatment for autoimmune conditions that affect the skin including:

  • Cutaneous Lupus — for patients with skin problems as a result of cutaneous lupus or systemic lupus with skin disease.
  • Dermatomyositis — for patients diagnosed with this rare disease characterized by inflammation and a skin rash, sometimes associated with muscle or lung inflammation.
  • Morphea/Scleroderma — for patients with morphea or localized scleroderma (hardening) affecting the skin or systemic scleroderma affecting the skin and other organs in the body.
  • Vasculitis — for patients with autoimmune disease affecting the vessels and other organs in the body.

Clinical Trials for Autoimmune Diseases at Penn

Patients undergoing treatment for autoimmune diseases at Penn Dermatology may be eligible to participate in several ongoing research studies on a volunteer basis, including cutaneous lupus and dermatomyositis.

Learn more about autoimmune disorders including cutaneous lupus, dermatomyositis and morphea/scleroderma at Penn Dermatology.