Also called: Circumscribed scleroderma, Dermatosclerosis, Morphea, Systemic sclerosis

Scleroderma means hard skin. It is a group of diseases that cause abnormal growth of connective tissue. Connective tissue is the material inside your body that gives your tissues their shape and helps keep them strong. In scleroderma, the tissue gets hard or thick. It can cause swelling or pain in your muscles and joints.

Symptoms of scleroderma include

  • Calcium deposits in connective tissues
  • Raynaud's phenomenon, a narrowing of blood vessels in the hands or feet
  • Swelling of the esophagus, the tube between your throat and stomach
  • Thick, tight skin on your fingers
  • Red spots on your hands and face

No one knows what causes scleroderma. It is more common in women. It can be mild or severe. Doctors diagnose scleroderma using your medical history, a physical exam, lab tests, and a skin biopsy. There is no cure, but various treatments can control symptoms and complications.

NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Symptoms of Scleroderma

The following features are indicative of Scleroderma:
  • hardening of skin
  • tightening of skin
  • skin patches
  • shiny skin
  • restricted movement of affected area
  • numbness
  • pain
  • color changes in the fingers or toes
  • problems absorbing nutrients
  • altered functioning of heart, lungs or kidneys

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Common Causes of Scleroderma

The following are the most common causes of Scleroderma:
  • overproduction and accumulation of collagen in body tissues
  • exposure to pesticides
  • exposure to epoxy resins
  • exposure to certain solvents
  • genetic factors

Other Causes of Scleroderma

The following are the less common causes of Scleroderma:
  • mutations in HLA genes

Risk Factors for Scleroderma

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Scleroderma:
  • women
  • choctaw native Americans
  • African-Americans

Prevention of Scleroderma

No, it is not possible to prevent Scleroderma.
  • genetic factors

Occurrence of Scleroderma

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Scleroderma cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very common > 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Scleroderma most commonly occurs in the following age group:
  • Aged between 20-50 years

Common Gender

Scleroderma can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Scleroderma

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Scleroderma:
  • Blood tests: To check for elevated blood levels of certain antibodies produced by the immune system
  • Tissue biopsy: To test for abnormalities
  • Pulmonary function tests: To test the breathing
  • CT scan: To test the functioning of lungs
  • Echocardiogram: To test the functioning of heart

Doctor for Diagnosis of Scleroderma

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Scleroderma:
  • Rheumatologist

Complications of Scleroderma if untreated

Yes, Scleroderma causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Scleroderma is left untreated:
  • skin sores
  • restricted blood flow
  • permanent damage of tissue at fingerprints
  • reduced lung function
  • reduced ability to breathe
  • reduced tolerance for exercise
  • pulmonary hypertension
  • increased level of protein in urine
  • renal crisis
  • rapid kidney failure
  • arrhythmias
  • pericarditis
  • dental decay
  • small mouth
  • difficulty swallowing
  • acid reflux
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • erectile dysfunction
  • decreasing sexual lubrication
  • constriction of vaginal opening

Procedures for Treatment of Scleroderma

The following procedures are used to treat Scleroderma:
  • Physical therapy: To Improve strength and mobility, maintain independence with daily tasks and manage pain
  • Amputation: To treat gangrene
  • Lung transplant: To treat pulmonary hypertension

Self-care for Scleroderma

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Scleroderma:
  • Stay active: Exercise helps to keep body flexible, improves circulation and relieves stiffness
  • Don't smoke: Helps to prevent permanent narrowing of blood vessels
  • Manage heartburn condition: Helps relieving symptoms
  • Protection from cold: Helps protecting skin and joints

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Scleroderma

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Scleroderma:
  • Occupational therapy: Helps to improve strength and mobility

Patient Support for Treatment of Scleroderma

The following actions may help Scleroderma patients:
  • Family and friends support: Helps to even out the ups and downs
  • Behavior psychologists: Helps to develop coping skills, including relaxation techniques
  • Join a support group: Helps sharing experiences and feelings with other people

Time for Treatment of Scleroderma

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Scleroderma to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • More than 1 year

Related Topics

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Scleroderma.

Related Topics

Raynaud's Disease

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