Scleroderma – Systemic Sclerosis

Scleroderma, also known as systemic sclerosis, is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by abnormal growth of connective tissue that leads to hardening and thickening of various parts of the body. It primarily affects the skin, blood vessels, and internal organs such as the lungs, heart, kidneys, and gastrointestinal tract.


The exact cause of scleroderma is unknown. It is believed to result from a combination of genetic and environmental factors, including abnormal immune system activity. Certain triggers, such as infections or exposure to certain chemicals, may also contribute to the development of the disease.


The symptoms of scleroderma can vary widely depending on the affected organs and the extent of tissue involvement. Common symptoms include:

  • Thickening and hardening of the skin
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon (discoloration of the fingers or toes in response to cold or stress)
  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Shortness of breath and coughing
  • Gastrointestinal issues such as acid reflux and bloating
  • Heart problems
  • Kidney problems
  • Weight loss

Types of Scleroderma

Scleroderma can be classified into two main types:

  1. Limited cutaneous scleroderma (lcSSc): This type affects the skin of the face, hands, and feet, most commonly causing thickening and tightening of the skin on the fingers. It is often associated with Raynaud’s phenomenon.
  2. Diffuse cutaneous scleroderma (dcSSc): This type affects a larger area of skin and internal organs. It progresses rapidly and can cause severe complications.


There is no cure for scleroderma, but treatment aims to manage symptoms, prevent complications, and improve quality of life. Treatment options may include:

  • Medications to control symptoms and reduce inflammation
  • Physical therapy to maintain or improve joint mobility
  • Occupational therapy to assist with daily activities
  • Regular monitoring and management of organ involvement
  • Lifestyle changes to manage symptoms and promote overall health

It is important for individuals with scleroderma to receive ongoing medical care and support to effectively manage the disease and its impact on daily life.