Scleroderma

Specialty of Rheumatology

Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease that causes hardening of the skin and changes in blood vessels, muscles and internal organs. The origin of the disease is unknown, but infected patients show the accumulation of a fibrous protein (collagen) in the skin and other organs. The main symptom of scleroderma is swelling and hardening of the skin, and inflammation and scarring in many parts of the body that cause problems in other organs. The disease can be severe and even cause death, or mild in which case it affects just certain parts of the body. Therefore, we differentiate between two types of scleroderma. One is localized scleroderma, which only affects parts of the skin, usually the hands and face. The other is the systemic scleroderma, which can affect the whole body (skin, oesophagus, lungs, and heart). The systemic scleroderma is subdivided into two types: diffuse scleroderma and limited scleroderma or CREST syndrome, which presents five typical features: calcinosis, Raynaud’s syndrome, oesophageal dysfunction, sclerodactyly and dilation of small vessels. Treatment of the disease depends on the type and severity of symptoms.

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