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There is an increasing interest in improving the understanding of pathophysiology, outcome measures, and therapies of rheumatic skin disease. Increasingly, studies are using the skin as a primary endpoint for evaluating therapies. This will review the current state of the art for the most common rheumatic skin diseases.A number of medications, including biologics such as tumor necrosis factor α and interferon, have been associated with onset of cutaneous lupus. The cutaneous lupus erythematosus area and severity index has been further validated and utilized in a number of studies. Smoking continues to be associated both with presence and refractoriness of cutaneous lupus erythematosus to therapy. There are several tools now available for evaluating the skin disease of dermatomyositis, but there is a need for new effective therapies. Measurement of skin disease in scleroderma continues to be a challenge, and there is a need for more effective therapies. Several studies show efficacy of intravenous iloprost for severe Raynaud's and skin ulcers, and of bosentan for digital ulcers.The present review covers new outcome measures, treatments, and unusual manifestations of cutaneous lupus, dermatomyositis, scleroderma, and rheumatoid arthritis. There have been a number of new studies related to validation of disease activity measures, as well as their use in evaluation of new therapies for these conditions. Validated outcome measures are required to perform meaningful studies, and will facilitate organized epidemiologic, quality of life, and therapeutic studies.