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What are the signs and symptoms of scleroderma?

Scleroderma affects the skin, and in serious, life-threatening cases it affects the blood vessels and internal organs. The most evident symptom is the hardening of the skin. There is discoloration of the hands and feet in response to cold. The seriousness of the disease depends on which organs, if any, are affected. If the heart, lungs, or kidneys are affected, the disease is generally fatal. Most patients (>80%) have Raynaud's phenomenon, a vascular sign in the fingers.

In addition to thickening and hardening of your skin, scleroderma can cause your skin to lose its elasticity and become shiny as it stretches across underlying bone. Other signs and symptoms may include: numbness, pain or color changes in your fingers, toes, cheeks, nose and ears, often brought on by cold or emotional distress (Raynaud's phenomenon); stiffness or pain in your joints and curling of your fingers; digestive problems ranging from poor absorption of nutrients to delayed movement of food due to impaired muscular activity in the intestine; sores over joints, such as your elbows and knuckles; and puffy hands and feet, particularly in the morning.

More information on scleroderma

What is scleroderma? - Scheroderma is an acquired rare disease that occurs worldwide in sporadic and occasionally in familial cases. Scleroderma is a disease that causes fibrosis (hardening) of the skin.
What are the symptoms of scleroderma? - Scleroderma affects the skin, and in serious, life-threatening cases it affects the blood vessels and internal organs. The most evident symptom is the hardening of the skin.
How is scleroderma classified? - Patients with scleroderma may develop either a localized or a systemic form of the disease. There are two types of generalized scleroderma: limited and diffuse scleroderma.
What causes scleroderma? - Although the exact cause or causes of scleroderma are unknown, a complex interaction between environmental encounters and genetic and non-genetic host factors may lead to scleroderma.
How is scleroderma diagnosed? - The diagnosis of the scleroderma syndrome is based on the finding of the clinical features of the illnesses. The diagnosis of localised types of scleroderma is based on the injuries.
What is the treatment for scleroderma? - Scleroderma has no known cure. Doctors often treat localized scleroderma with therapies such as moisturizers or corticosteroid medications. 
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All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005,, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005