Scleroderma is a skin disease where excess collagen is produced, thus resulting in the formation of scar-like skin thickening similar to that of a healed burn wound.

Symptoms of Scleroderma

The symptoms of scleroderma are:

  • Scar-like thickening, hardening, and tightness of the skin
  • Swelling in the hands and feet
  • Swelling and redness around the nail and cuticles
  • Itching
  • Pain and numbness in the hand
  • Change in skin color when exposed to cold or stress
  • Joint stiffness
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • High blood pressure

Scleroderma generally begins in the fingers, and for most people, are confined to this area. In serious cases, collagen formation also occurs in the lung, kidneys, and esophagus.

Scleroderma on the fingers.
Scleroderma on the fingers.

How Many People Get It?

Approximately 300,000 people in the United States have scleroderma. It affects mostly middle-aged women, although it can occur in both men and women of all ages.

Prevention of Scleroderma

People with scleroderma can prevent flare-ups by:

  • Avoiding dry skin
    Wash your hand and bathe with moisturizing soap, and apply moisturizer to the skin right afterwards.

  • Wear warm clothings and gloves during cold weather
  • Performing stretching exercises to increase flexibility of tight skin
  • Avoid smoking

Treatment of Scleroderma

There is no cure for scleroderma. Doctors may prescribe corticosteroid cream to minimize itching.

See also:
Scleroderma Pictures

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