Scleroderma: Types, Symptoms, Causes And Treatment

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According to National Scleroderma, autoimmune diseases are becoming a major concern in the world. One such disease is Scleroderma, which has affected almost 300,000 people in the United States. Among the almost 200,000 people are affected by localized scleroderma, whereas 100,000 are among those who are suffering from systemic scleroderma.

Now, you might be thinking about how this disease is a major concern and how to identify and treat it. So, understand the scleroderma in detail, including its type and causes, and get better treatment.

What Is Meant By Scleroderma?

If you or any other person in your circle has swollen organs like hands or legs, which are also shiny in appearance, it might be possible that it is scleroderma. It is a rare autoimmune disease that affects the skin, including connective tissues of the joints, resulting in swelling. In some cases, it may also occur in internal organs of the body, which we call systemic scleroderma.

Scleroderma Disease

This is a long-lasting disease that is caused when the immune system accidentally damages the tissues while striking too much protein collagen. As a result, your skin gets tightened, and you experience pain in joints and other body parts. Additionally, it also causes scars in internal organs such as lungs, kidneys, and blood vessels, resulting in their malfunctioning.

You need to understand that it is not a contagious disease, which means it can’t be transferred from one person to another. But the sad thing is it is an incurable disease, but you can opt for some treatment methods to get relief. So, let’s find out what its type is and what its symptoms are so that you can get better treatment.

What Are The Types Of Scleroderma Disease

Now, you might have understood about scleroderma and its seriousness and the causes behind it. However, this autoimmune disease is a group of illnesses that causes various health issues in the body. Though this disease affects both genders, it still more often targets women between the ages of 30 and 50.

The scleroderma disease is caused both internally and externally and is separated into two categories. The scleroderma that affects the internal organs is specialized, and the diseases that affect the skin are localized scleroderma, which we have discussed below in detail.

1. Localized Scleroderma

Localized is a general form of scleroderma that mainly affects the skin or the underlying tissues in the upper layer of the body. These types of sclerosis are mostly caused in children, but at the same time, they can be seen in adults, too. It commonly appears in two forms, i.e. morphe and linear sclerosis.

You can observe the morphe when you find the oval-shaped patches on the lines of the skin. In this scleroderma, the organ usually becomes harder, showing red or purple patches, and becomes whitish in the center.

Another one is linear scleroderma, which thickens the blood vessels of different organs of the body. You can usually find these symptoms in the legs, arms, and even forehead of your face that may also affect internal.

2. Systemic Scleroderma

Next is systemic scleroderma, also known as systemic sclerosis is the most common type that mainly causes internal organs of the body. It is more serious than localized scleroderma, which targets the lungs, kidneys, blood vessels, and gastrointestinal tract. This disease is further categorized into five types according to their occurrence.

  • First comes calcinosis, which is caused when nodules are formed under your skin or other organs due to calcium salts.
  • The next scleroderma is caused when your esophagus doesn’t work properly, which is also known as esophageal dysfunction.
  • Another systemic sclerosis is Raynaud’s phenomenon, which occurs when there is a lack of blood flow in the body. This sclerosis is mainly caused by a cold, and the symptoms may appear in the fingers and nose.
  • Now, let’s move to telangiectasis, which appears when a new blood vessel appears on the surface of the skin.
  • And last is the sclerodactyly that thickens the skin of the arms and legs and may create problems in moving your fingers.

Additionally, you can also find diffuse cutaneous scleroderma, which occurs rarely in the human body. These types of scleroderma come on more rapidly and can occur both internally and externally. They are mostly limited to fingers and toes and internal organs like the heart, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract.

How Can You Find A Person Affected By Scleroderma Disease?

You might have understood that scleroderma tends to thicken the various parts of the body while tightening the skin. Furthermore, you can also observe red or purple patches with a white spot in the center. A person with scleroderma may also experience pain and swelling in the joints, feel weakness in muscles, and have dry eyes.

What Are The Potential Causes Of Scleroderma And Its Treatment Methods

As it is a group of diseases, the researchers have not found any exact cause behind the scleroderma. However, according to some studies, the environment can be the suspect as some chemicals may trigger the symptoms of scleroderma. On the other hand, this type of disease can be caused by the immunity system, which can cause the production of too many collagen cells.

At the same time, it is an incurable disease, which means you cannot revive the damaged cells. However, some treatment methods can stop the collagen process and provide relief from the pain. The doctor may conduct proper screening to understand its complications and recommend required medications to mitigate the infection and improve the blood flow.

Final Words

Scleroderma is one of the rare autoimmune diseases that can cause some serious issues in the body. Additionally, it is incurable and needs a specialist to mitigate its symptoms and improve the blood flow in the affected organ.

Therefore, taking some precautionary steps can be a great way to prevent such types of health issues. So, it is essential to stay fit while being involved in physical activities and choosing a proper diet containing more fiber. You must also practice stress management and improve the blood flow with physical therapy.

References

  • Distler JH, Jüngel A, Huber LC, Schulze-Horsel U, Zwerina J, Gay RE, Michel BA, Hauser T, Schett G, Gay S, Distler O. Imatinib mesylate reduces production of extracellular matrix and prevents development of experimental dermal fibrosis. Arthritis Rheum. 2007 Jan;56(1):311-22. [PubMed]
  • Careta MF, Romiti R. Localized scleroderma: clinical spectrum and therapeutic update. An Bras Dermatol. 2015 Jan-Feb;90(1):62-73. [PMC free article]

Dr. David G Kiely is a distinguished Medical Reviewer and former General Medicine Consultant with a wealth of experience in the field. Dr. Kiely's notable career as a General Medicine Consultant highlights his significant contributions to the medical field.

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