Thickened, hardened or tightened skin are typical symptoms that scleroderma. (The word "scleroderma" way "hard skin.") but this complex disease takes different forms and also can have various signs and symptoms. In major cases, it have the right to be attention or also life-threatening.

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What is scleroderma?

Scleroderma is one autoimmune disorder that can lead come a tightening or hardening of the skin and other soft, connective tissues. The is a chronic condition in i beg your pardon the immune system mistakenly attacks and damages your own body. This manifests together an overproduction that collagen, a protein that is a structure block of connective tissues. This overproduction leads to fibrosis – boost of tissue volume – the the skin or of tissues of the lungs or other organs.

Scleroderma different in the method it can influence each patient’s all at once health. The can variety from being an uncomfortable skin condition that disrupts quality of life however poses no danger, to gift a severe, life-threatening disorder that deserve to affects blood vessels and also internal organs.

What reasons scleroderma?

As with most autoimmune diseases, the exact cause is unknown, return in numerous patients it might be multifactoral, arising from a combination of congenital processes and also environmental agents.

Some scleroderma-like illnesses have additionally been associated with eco-friendly exposures, together as break out of scleroderma-like disease in Spain in world who had actually ingested a toxicity rapeseed oil. Other instances of scleroderma-like illness have emerged in human being who consumed adulterated food containing l tryptophan (an amino mountain that is important to structure our bodily proteins, and also which we absorb from food).

In some people, specific scleroderma-like lung diseases have occurred after exposures to specific toxins or chemotherapy agents come treat cancer, such together bleomycin.

Are there different varieties of scleroderma?

There are two simple types: Localized scleroderma (affecting only the skin) is a milder type, if systemic scleroderma (affecting the internal organs), is much an ext dangerous. Systemic scleroderma is likewise known together systemic sclerosis (SSc) or “generalized scleroderma,” and can result in serious or also life-threatening organ damage and also complications.

Localized scleroderma

In some patients, the an illness is localized and purely a skin disorder, at times identified by isolated spot of thickened, scarred, chop skin. In other situations the skin joining becomes more widespread, but the disease still go not extend to impact internal organs or reason vascular (blood vessel) problems.

There space three an easy subtypes that localized scleroderma:

morphea: roundish or irregular-shaped hard patches that skin top top the face, hands, feet or trunklinear scleroderma: lines or bands the thickened skin ~ above the face, arms or legsmorphea en coup de sabre: thickened skin resulting in linear depressions ~ above the forehead only

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Systemic scleroderma

Within systemic scleroderma (also referred to as systemic sclerosis), two significant forms room recognized: restricted scleroderma (also recognized as crest syndrome) and diffuse scleroderma. (Find a systemic scleroderma specialist in ~

In both forms, vascular (blood vessel) difficulties such Raynaud’s phenomenon room present. Gastrointestinal problems can happen in both forms as well. The difference in between the two relies on the degree of involvement of the skin.

In patient with limited disease, the skin involvement mostly affects the hands, probably the forearms, yet not extending above the elbows and also there normally is sparing that the trunk. The confront may be connected as well. In patients with diffuse scleroderma, the skin involvement typically affects ~ above the upper arms, thighs, chest wall and trunk.

Some people with systemic scleroderma have actually normal skin yet have various other manifestations of the disease.

Limited scleroderma

Limited scleroderma is likewise sometimes called CREST syndrome, i m sorry is one acronym that its typical features:

calcinosis: nodules that calcium that kind under the skinesophageal dysfunction: improper functioning the the esophagus, i beg your pardon can reason acid refluxsclerodactyly:Tightened skin ~ above the hands that can reason fingers to flex (curl) involuntarily and impair movement

Although lung authorized or even kidney involvement can take place in patients with limited disease, it is less typical as a rapidly progressive difficulty early in the disease course, although that is important not come overlook these potential complications. Pulmonary hypertension in particular, which can be a very serious condition, can happen in patients through limited disease and have the right to arise late in the food of the disease.

Diffuse scleroderma

Patients through diffuse condition seem to it is in at greater risk for early on lung involvement, and doctors will certainly generally display for this proactively. This patients also seem come be greater risk because that kidney involvement. This have the right to be danger or life-threatening if left unrecognized, however it have the right to be easily screened for by frequent evaluation of pee samples and also checking blood push regularly (several time a week), specifically early in the course of the disease.

What room the symptoms of scleroderma?

Symptoms vary however can include:

Raynaud’s phenomenon (color alters of the fingers and toes in the cold)arthritis or joint painthickened or tightened skin on different parts of the bodyacid reflux, heartburn and also other cradle problems

More severe manifestations (for systemic scleroderma or systemic sclerosis) include:

interstitial lung diseasepulmonary hypertensionbreathing difficulties and also chest painanemiaheart problemskidney problems

What are the at an early stage signs and symptoms of systemic sclerosis?

Often, the very first symptom the systemic sclerosis (systemic scleroderma) is Raynaud’s phenomenon. This is as soon as the fingers rotate white, red, and/or blue in response to the cold or stress. However, that is necessary to keep in mind that most people who have actually Raynaud’s phenomenon execute not have actually scleroderma. Up to 15% of particular populations may have the Raynaud’s phenomenon, while much less than 0.001% have systemic sclerosis.

Who is many at risk for scleroderma?

Like lupus and also rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma influence women an ext frequently than men. Around 80% the patients v systemic scleroderma are women. This rare disease can build at age but usually starts to impact adults in between their 20s to 50s. Localized scleroderma might be watched in adult or youngsters alike.

Environmental factors

A host of eco-friendly exposures have been worrying for the development of scleroderma-like illnesses, however this is pertinent in just a decimal of patients that ultimately build scleroderma.

Smoking seems to be a risk aspect for vascular condition associated v scleroderma and also with much more severe expression of the disease in general. That is not clear, however, even if it is tobacco or nicotine use rises the threat of arising scleroderma.

Genetic factors

Some genetic susceptibility components have been figured out as being associated with a slightly greater risk because that scleroderma, but in general, that does not seem to be genetically figured out disease.

Does scleroderma run in families?

The overwhelming majority of patients through scleroderma have actually no family members members v the disorder.

Can scleroderma it is in passed under from parent to child?

Only around 1.5% scleroderma patients have actually an influenced first-degree family members member (meaning parent, child, brothers or sister.) These families are being studied by researchers to learn much more about genetics and also scleroderma.

Should I see a dermatologist or rheumatologist if ns think I have actually scleroderma?

A diagnosis the scleroderma commonly requires consultation in between several various specialists, consisting of dermatology in addition to rheumatology. A an excellent place to start could be her primary treatment doctor, that can aid refer you to the exactly specialists.

Scleroderma can cause symptoms the are comparable to those of other chronic, rheumatologic diseases, and it have the right to be perplexed with other conditions. A rheumatologist can help distinguish between them. Over there are additionally several skin conditions, which may not it is in rheumatologic, yet which cause the advancement of girlfriend thick and itchy skin.

Because this is such a rarely disease, countless physicians room not conscious of screening references or therapy options, which are available. Civilization with systemic sclerosis, especially, need a rigorous review for cardiac and also lung disease, and counseling on just how to monitor because that the an ext serious signs and also symptoms the this condition. If you room concerned around getting a exactly diagnosis or if an additional physician has actually diagnosed you v systemic scleroderma (systemic sclerosis), it is really important to be viewed by a rheumatologist with special specialization in systemic sclerosis. (Find a systemic scleroderma specialist in ~

How is scleroderma diagnosed?

The scleroderma diagnosis is based on a mix of clinical attribute (symptoms) certain laboratory findings. A thorough examination and blood tests are required to identify whether you have actually scleroderma. Diagnosis have the right to be difficult, since the disease shares numerous similarities with various other autoimmune disorders. That is an extremely important to consult a rheumatologist who has expertise in scleroderma. (Find a scleroderma experienced at

Clinical attributes of scleroderma

The overwhelming bulk of patients v scleroderma had Raynaud’s phenomena, a condition where ~ above cold exposure extremities can come to be whitish, bluish, or ultimately also reddish and uncomfortable. Raynaud’s phenomena, however, is common in the general population. In patients with Raynaud’s phenomena in the context of scleroderma, various other findings space usually present, including alters that can be observed by an knowledgeable clinician looking very closely at the pond beds, skin changes which generally define scleroderma (the usual “hardened skin” that one would view in scleroderma), and the visibility of interior organ issues.

Blood tests

The rheumatologist will often order a dashboard of laboratory tests including autoantibodies, which room markers the can assist predict one sample of disease or another.

Typically, the rheumatologist will order one test because that ANA (antinuclear antibody, an antibody generally found in countless of the autoimmune diseases), and for Scl-70 antibody (positive in some patients v diffuse scleroderma), anticentromere antibody (generally felt to be a marker for restricted scleroderma), and an antibody referred to as RNA polymerase III, which seems to it is in a marker for diffuse scleroderma, and often predicts patient with much more rapidly progressive skin disease, and additionally possibly greater risk for kidney joining in whom blood pressures must be monitored with even greater vigilance.

A skin biopsy is typically not vital to make the diagnosis.

Screening for organ involvement (systemic sclerosis)

There is no single algorithm regarding how patients with developed or also suspected scleroderma need to be screened for organ involvement. The most essential screening tool is a considerable history, i beg your pardon is a discussion between the patient and also the physician, and a cautious physical examination. More tests that most likely will be ordered will include blood tests and a urine evaluation to assess simple parameters of wellness including whether or not anemia is present, the condition of renal function, and usually also muscle blood tests to assess for whether over there is any muscle inflammation i m sorry can take place in these disorders.

Tests of lung and heart duty are frequently requested, including pulmonary duty studies (where a patience breathes right into a tube and also their lung function is assessed), regularly a chest x-ray or also high resolution chest CT scan, and usually an echocardiogram which have the right to assess both the heart function, and also the press in the arteries going native the love to the lung (which helps display for pulmonary hypertension).

At times, various gastrointestinal (GI) street tests may be ordered, relying on the patient"s symptoms. These tests are all done with an eye in the direction of identifying problems when they are at early stage and possibly an ext easily treatable.

How is scleroderma treated?

There is no cure for this chronic illness, however treatments are easily accessible which can assist improve pain, various condition manifestations, and improve quality of life. Relying on the severity that the disease, aggressive physical and occupational therapy may be compelled to prevent disability in part patients.

Several blood-vessel-dilating medications that have actually been emerged have been recognized as being helpful in patients through scleroderma and Raynaud’s phenomena complicated by digital ulcers. Over there have also been trials demonstrating that immunosuppressive therapies deserve to be beneficial in state of progression of lung disease in patients with scleroderma and progressive interstitial lung disease.

Drug research for scleroderma therapies

A incredible amount of research is recurring to uncover improved treatments and also to far better understand systemic sclerosis. The question of whether over there is a true an illness modifying antirheumatic medicine (DMARD) for scleroderma, however, continues to be a challenging one.

There room no medicine that have been unequivocally proven in managed trials come treat scleroderma. Encouragingly, there space a variety of agents of interest looking in ~ a variety of strategies including immunosuppressive techniques with medicine such together mycophenolate or cyclophosphamide, antifibrotic therapies through drugs such together tyrosine kinase inhibitors, and even the breakthrough of more recent biologics i beg your pardon may organize promise in terms of treating the basic disease.

The scleroderma clinical research ar has end up being much much more sophisticated and integrative in our ability to perform the clinical trials crucial to assess these newer medications. Moreover, developments in knowledge the basic underlying immune and vascular mechanism abnormalities in scleroderma stop promise for developing newer therapies in the no too remote future. Patients v systemic sclerosis should consider whether lock would like to involve themselves in research and be component of finding a cure because that this disease.

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Can changing my diet assist improve scleroderma symptoms?

There is no strong, scientific proof to introduce a certain diet come treat scleroderma, but in general it is good to eat a healthy and also balanced diet. However, particular clinical manifestations the scleroderma may boost with diet modification. Particular foods can cause gastroesophageal reflux an illness (GERD) and also avoiding them deserve to improve symptoms. Other issues which might respond to dietary transforms include cradle or esophageal dysmotility, serious weight loss and also constipation. Patients through heart or kidney disease as part of scleroderma might require a short salt diet. Occasionally a consultation v a nutritionist is helpful, and also be sure to comment on your diet and your pertains to with her physician.