Scleroderma is a collection of diseases of the skin and connective tissues. The disease results in a hardening of the skin and tightening of connective tissues throughout the patient’s body. This callusing is caused by an overproduction and buildup of collagen in body tissue. Scleroderma can affect the patient’s internal organs, digestive tract, blood vessels, and skin. The cause of this autoimmune disease is unknown, but symptoms are often brought on by exposure to airborne and chemical pollutants. It is a long-term disease which is also called progressive systemic sclerosis. The disease typically affects patients between 25 and 55 years of age and is more prevalent in women at a rate of 4 to 1 over men. Children also can contract scleroderma which is typically a type of the disease called localized scleroderma.
Scleroderma manifests in different ways depending on the affected organs. There are two types of systemic scleroderma. The limited form also called limited systemic sclerosis primarily only affects the skin of the patient. The second form of the disease is the diffuse form, also known as diffuse systemic sclerosis. This form of the disease also affects the skin but additionally impacts internal organs including the lungs and kidneys of the patient.
Common Symptoms of Scleroderma:
- Hardening and tightening of various areas of the skin affect almost every patient with scleroderma. Based on the type of scleroderma determines the size and area of the skin that is involved.
Fingers and Toes/Raynaud’s Disease
- An early symptom of scleroderma is intense reactions to emotional stress and cold temperatures. This response results in discoloration, pain, and numbness in the fingers and toes, which is named Raynaud’s disease.
- Difficulty absorbing nutrients
- Slow motility of digestive system
- Acid reflux
For answers to your questions or to make an appointment, call us toll-free at 866-740-3638 to speak with our Patient Care Team.