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.