Scleroderma is a rare disease, so a health the June awareness month is a great way to share information. An autoimmune disease with treatment, but no cure, Scleroderma affects about 300,000 people in the United States.
Scleroderma means hard skin and affects the connective tissues leading to inflation, scars and thickening of skin. The most common areas of skin that are affected are the of elbows, fingers and face. If this disease is diagnosed in its early stages, there is less damage and less serious symptoms. It is important to know the symptoms of Scleroderma because as with many autoimmune diseases, diagnosis can be difficult.
- Skin changes – swollen fingers and hands, puffy skin, thick patches of skin, especially on the fingers, tight skin around the hands, face or mouth. Skin may look shiny, and movement may be restricted.
- Raynaud’s phenomenon – the small blood vessels in the hands and feet are affected by cold or stress, which causes numbness, pain and/or red, blue or purple skin.
- Red spots on the fingers, palms, face, lips, or tongue.
- Loss of the skin’s ability to stretch.
- Itchy skin.
- Fingers are curled.
- Digestive problems – heartburn, GERD, or trouble swallowing food.
Types of Scleroderma
Children can develop Scleroderma and it most often Localized, which means it only affects the skin. The most common symptoms of Localized Scleroderma are Morphea, which are oval shaped skin patches that have a purple border and white middle and Linear Scleroderma, which are bands of hardened skin usually on one side of the body.
Systemic Scleroderma affects your skin, blood vessels and internal organs. It occurs suddenly and can get worse quickly within the first two years. There are subcategories of Systemic Scleroderma depending on what area of the body is affected.
Blood work, biopsies and a thorough skin assessment are some of the tests done to help diagnose this disease.
Scleroderma is treated with various types of medications depending on the area of the body or the organs affected and physical therapy. Sometime surgery is necessary.
Share the Information
Spread the word and raise awareness by sharing this post, by liking the Scleroderma Foundation page on Facebook and by sharing your story if you have been diagnosed with this disease or know someone who has.
Learn more about Scleroderma from the Scleroderma Foundation.