Cutaneous Connective Tissue Diseases: Epidemiology, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Bobby Y. Reddy1, Basil M. Hantash*, 2
1 New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ, USA
2 Division of Plastic Surgery, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA

© 2009 Reddy and Hantash

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Stanford University School of Medicine, Department of Surgery, Division of Plastic Surgery, 257 Campus Drive, Stanford, CA 94305-5148, USA; Tel: (650) 736-1703; Fax: (650) 736-9531;


Connective tissue diseases (CTDs) are a group of clinical disorders that have an underlying autoimmune pathogenesis. These include a diverse set of diseases such as relapsing polychondritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and eosinophilic fasciitis, along with more common entities like Sjogren’s syndrome, dermatomyositis, scleroderma, and lupus erythematosus. The latter three will be the focus of this review, as they constitute the most significant and common CTD with cutaneous manifestations. The cutaneous signs often represent the preliminary stages of disease and the presenting clinical symptoms. Therefore, comprehensive knowledge of CTD manifestations is essential for accurate diagnosis, better assessment of prognosis, and effective management. Although the precise etiologies of CTDs remain obscure, recent advances have allowed for further understanding of their pathogenesis and improved disease classifications. In addition, there have been developments in therapeutic options for CTDs. This review provides an overview of the epidemiology, clinical presentations, and current treatment options of cutaneous lupus erythematous, dermatomyositis and scleroderma.

Keywords: Autoimmunity, connective tissue disease (CTD), cutaneous lupus erythrematous (CLE), dermatomyositis (DM), scleroderma (Scl).