Tell Us about your case
Scleroderma – What is it and How can it be Treated?
According to the Scleroderma Foundation, there are about 300,000 people in the United State who have developed scleroderma, a chronic skin disease that is puzzling doctors around the world. This skin condition is not contagious or cancerous, but it can be life-threatening in some cases. To date, there is no know cause or continuously successful treatment for scleroderma.
Scleroderma is classified as an autoimmune rheumatic disease. In scleroderma patients, the body deposits too much collagen in the skin and, in some cases, the organs. It can also affect blood vessels. This extra collagen causes the skin to harder, tighten, and appear rough. In more serious cases, this chronic skin disease can cause joint pain, difficulty breathing, problems with the digestive system, and other internal problems.
There are three types of scleroderma: diffuse, limited (CREST syndrome), and morphea (linear). Diffuse scleroderma is by far the most serious of these skin condition disease, as its onset is quick and it usually causes hardening of internal organs. Limited scleroderma is much more mild, typically online affecting the patient’s skin. With morphea, also called linear scleroderma, the chronic skin disease doesn’t affect the entire body, just patches here and there with no internal problems.
Although there may be a slight predisposition for scleroderma if a family member has the skin condition, genetics alone are not the cause of this disease. You also can’t “catch” the disease by touching or being near a patient who has it. Doctors aren’t sure what causes scleroderma, and therefore, the condition is very hard to treat successfully. Some cases of scleroderma are associated with chronic renal failure, while others theorize that the condition maybe caused by microchimerism, certain fetal cells in the mother’s blood stream that cause immune problems for the baby. As of now, none of these theories have been proven.
There are currently a number of government clinical trials and research projects being done to help scleroderma patients, according to Medline Plus (a division of the National Library of Medicine and the National Institute of Health). These studies hope to find a cause so that it can be effectively treated and cured. Other studies are hoping to find better treatments for the symptoms. This won’t cure the chronic skin disease, but it will help patients live with it a lot more easily.
Scleroderma typically onsets between the ages of 25 and 55. In some cases, children can also develop this skin condition. Talk to your doctor today if you begin to see scleroderma symptoms or believe you are at risk.