Scleroderma is a disease of the connective tissue. Patients suffering from scleroderma show a wide range of symptoms. Explore this article to know the most common symptoms of scleroderma.

Symptoms Of Scleroderma

Scleroderma is a disease of the connective tissue that involves changes in the skin, muscles and blood vessels. In extremely severe cases the vital internal organs may get affected as well. The name scleroderma comes from the Greek words “skleros”, which means hard, and “derma”, which means skin. In this disease patients more often than not buildup a substance called ‘collagen’ in the skin and other organs that in turn hardens the skin. Women are more prone to scleroderma than men. The risk factors include exposure to silica dust and polyvinyl chloride. Scleroderma is a rare disease and is marked by damage of the cells lining the walls of the small arteries along with an abnormal buildup of tissue in the skin. Patients suffering from scleroderma either develop a localized or a systemic form of the disease. Localized scleroderma can be of two types, “morphea scleroderma” and “linear scleroderma”, while the systemic scleroderma is divided into two types, “limited” and “diffuses scleroderma”. While localized scleroderma affects only the skin on the hands and face, systemic scleroderma can be life threatening as it affects fundamental internal organs. To learn more about the typical symptoms of scleroderma, steer through the next section.
Scleroderma Symptoms 
  • Symptoms of scleroderma vary from patient to patient. The symptoms also depend upon the severity and the type of the disease.
  • The symptoms of the disease may range from mild to severe with disabling and life threatening complications.
  • The symptoms of scleroderma begin to appear in adulthood, typically between the ages of 20 and 40.
  • People suffering from a milder form of scleroderma show mild symptoms of localized scleroderma that affects the skin and the musculoskeletal system including ‘Raynaud’s phenomenon’.
  • Symptoms of localized scleroderma include swelling of the hands, face, fingers, and forearms, lower legs, and feet.
  • As the skin of the affected area become swollen, hard, and thick, movement of these areas is often painful and difficult.
  • Joint stiffness and muscle weakness are among other common symptoms of scleroderma.
  • Many patients develop sores on their fingertips and toes.
  • Joint pain may also occur in some patients.
  • Some patients may also notice small bumps beneath their skin.
  • Systemic scleroderma affects many vital body organs including the kidneys, blood vessels, digestive organs, heart, and lungs. Such patients have complications like GERD, heartburn, pulmonary fibrosis, abnormal heart rhythms, hypertension, heart failure, seizures, shortness of breath, hematuria, constipation, chest pain, etc.
  • Prominent skin symptoms of scleroderma include hair loss, blueness or redness of the fingers and toes in response to heat, a condition known as Raynaud’s phenomenon, abnormally pigmented skin, tight and mask like skin on the face, skin bumps sometimes oozing a white substance resembling toothpaste.
  • The first symptom of scleroderma is usually the Raynaud’s phenomenon where the small blood vessels narrow in the fingers, ears, toes, and nose.
Other Scleroderma Symptoms
  • Swelling in the fingers
  • Shiny skin
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Sclerodactyly
  • Thickening of the skin on the fingers
  • Esophegeal dysfunction
  • Calcinosis
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon
  • Telangiectasias
  • Finger sensitivity
  • Toe ulcers
  • Finger pain
  • Toe pain
  • Changes in skin color
  • Contracted joints
If you or any of your family members exhibit any of these above symptoms of scleroderma, then consult your physician as soon as possible to avoid further complications.

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