Dermatomyositis is an idiopathic inflammatory myopathy with characteristic skin manifestations. Although the disorder is rare, with a prevalence of one to 10 cases per million in adults and one to 3.2 cases per million in children, early recognition and treatment are important ways to decrease the morbidity of systemic complications. An association with other connective tissue disorders (overlap syndrome) and malignancy make this diagnosis particularly important to primary care physicians. Patient management includes careful evaluation for underlying malignancy and liberal use of physical therapy, antihistamines, sunscreen and oral corticosteroids. Poor prognostic indicators include poorly responsive disease, delay in diagnosis and the presence of malignancy. The therapeutic goal is to maintain function and prevent or minimize sequelae.