Donors with scleroderma
Scleroderma (sklair-oh-DUR-muh), also known as systemic sclerosis, is a group of rare diseases that involve the hardening and tightening of the skin. It may also cause problems in the blood vessels, internal organs and digestive tract.
Scleroderma is often categorized as "limited" or "diffuse," which refers only to the degree of skin involvement. Both types can involve any of the other vascular or organ problems. Localized scleroderma, also known as morphea, affects only the skin.
While there is no cure for scleroderma, treatments can ease symptoms, slow progression and improve quality of life.
Scleroderma's signs and symptoms vary from person to person, depending on which parts of the body are affected.
Skin-related signs and symptoms
Nearly everyone who has scleroderma experiences a hardening and tightening of the skin.
The first parts of the body to be affected are usually the fingers, hands, feet and face. In some people, the skin thickening can also involve the forearms, upper arms, chest, abdomen, lower legs and thighs. Early symptoms may include swelling and itchiness. Affected skin can become lighter or darker in color and may look shiny because of the tightness.
Some people also experience small red spots, called telangiectasia, on their hands and face. Calcium deposits can form under the skin, particularly at the fingertips, causing bumps that can be seen on X-rays.
Raynaud's phenomenon is common in scleroderma and occurs because of an inappropriate and exaggerated contraction of the small blood vessels in the fingers and toes in response to the cold or emotional distress. When this happens, the digits may turn white, blue or red, and feel painful or numb. Raynaud's phenomenon also can occur in people who don't have scleroderma.
Scleroderma can affect any part of the digestive system, from the esophagus to the rectum. Depending on which parts of the digestive system are affected, signs and symptoms may include: