What is scleroderma?This condition takes its name from the Greek root word skleros, which means hard, and derma, which means relating to the skin. It is an autoimmune disorder, causing the skin as well as other tissues to harden. It is not cancerous, contagious, or infectious.
Scleroderma is a chronic disease, affecting about 300,000 Americans. It typically develops between the age of 25 and 55, and it progresses over time.
What causes scleroderma?This condition is the result of excess collagen production. Although the cause of the excess collagen is not clear, it appears to be associated with the immune system. There are two forms:
Localized scleroderma affects only the skin.
Systemic scleroderma affects the skin, as well as other tissues and organs such as the lungs, kidneys, heart, intestines, and gall bladder.
Symptoms of sclerodermaSome of the most common signs include:
- Unusually light or dark skin.
- Changes in the coloring of the fingers or toes when exposed to cold or heat.
- Hardening or thickening skin.
- Shiny skin on the forearms and hands.
- Small lumps, white in color, forming beneath the surface of the skin.
- Tightness of the facial skin.
- Ulcers on the toes or fingers.
Scleroderma treatment at Dr. W DermatologyUnfortunately, this condition cannot be cured; however, medications can help to slow the progression and ease the symptoms. Treatment will depend on the type and severity of the condition. It may include:
- Biological medications that suppress the over-activity of the immune system.
- Medications to stabilize blood pressure can help the functionality of the lungs and kidneys.
- Occupational or physical therapy is helpful for many patients.
- In some cases, surgical intervention is required.