Diagnosis and treatment of autoimmune diseases

Autoimmune diseases are diseases that are caused by the body's own immune or defense system. It does this by producing large quantities of various substances involved in the defense against foreign substances (e.g. bacteria, viruses, other foreign proteins). This overproduction of certain substances damages the cells of the body's own defense system and leads to the body's "healthy" balance being thrown out of kilter.

Symptoms and affected organs

Autoimmune diseases manifest themselves in many different ways:

  • Skin diseases: blistering diseases (technical term: pemphigus, pemphigoid, epidermis bullosa acquisita, etc.)
  • Inflammation of skin vessels (technical term: vasculitis)
  • Joint symptoms: this disease is known as rheumatoid arthritis (technical terms: lupus erythematosus, scleroderma, dermatomyositis, etc.)
  • Graf-versus-host diseases of the skin

The affected areas of skin are reddened, painful or itchy.


  • Careful clinical examination to determine whether and which substances are stored in the skin in excessive quantities
  • Blood tests:


  • External treatment of the affected skin areas with creams, gels (corticosteroids, light protection preparations or preparations for wound care
  • Oral medication to reduce the overproduction of the triggering substances:
      • Corticosteroids, methotrexate, azathioprine, cyclophosphamide, cyclosporine, immunoglobulin, extracorporeal photophoresis
  • General measures (advice on avoiding factors that promote the disease and a lifestyle adapted to the disease activity)


We work closely with the Department of Immunology at the USZ to discuss difficult cases on an interdisciplinary basis and determine the best possible treatment for those affected.

Patient Organizations

Scleroderma support groups:

For patients

As a patient, you cannot register directly for a consultation. Please get a referral from your primary care physician, specialist.

For referrer

Department of Dermatology
Rämistrasse 100
8091 Zurich

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