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Sclerodema – A Dangerous Skin Condition
According to the Dermatology Online Journal, “Systemic sclerosis is a clinically heterogeneous, systemic disorder which affects the connective tissue of the skin, internal organs and the walls of blood vessels.” Also called sclerodema, systemic sclerosis is one of the most serious types of scleroderma. Although all forms of scleroderma affect the skin, sclerodema also affects that patient internally, which can make it difficult to breath, digest foods, and perform normal bodily functions. Thousands of people die every year for sclerodema.
Sclerodema is known as systemic sclerosis because it affects entire body systems. This classification of skin disease can be further broken down into two kinds of scleroderma – limited and diffuse. Limited scleroderma is often referred to as CREST syndrome, and it is mild when compared to diffuse scleroderma. CREST stands for Calcinosis, Raynaud’s syndrom, Esophageal dysmotility, Sclerodactyly, and Talangiectasia. These are the five main features of limited scleroderma. What do they mean?
- Calcinosis – the deposit of calcium in the body’s tissues, causing hardening
- Raynaud’s syndrome – discoloration of the extremities, caused by decreased blood flow
- Esophageal dysmotility – weakening of the esophageal muscles
- Sclerogactyly – skin thickening and tightness on the digits
- Telangiectasia – the development of tiny blood vessels near the surface of the skin, discoloration and bruising
CREST syndrome usually does not affect the lungs or kidneys, but can attack other organs, so is still very dangerous, especially if left untreated. You can read more about CREST at the US National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus.
Diffuse scleroderma is actually a much more deadly form of sclerodema. In fact, this is the most serious kind of scleroderma, and it is often referred to as progressive systemic sclerosis. Unlike other kinds of skin disease, diffuse scleroderma has a very rapid onset, causing the patients skin to harden and thicken very quickly. As with all kinds of sclerodema, it also attacks the internal organs. Most commonly, the disease specifically attacks the lungs and digestive system, making it very hard for you to breathe and process food.
Because sclerodema affects the body internally, it is very important that you see a doctor right away. Other kinds of scleroderma may be disfiguring and painful, but they aren’t fatal. Sclerodema, on the other hand, can be – the skin disease portion of this medical condition is just the tip of the iceberg. Talk to your doctor today to learn more and find out if you are at risk.