Health Library

Risk Factors for Scleroderma

A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.

It is possible to develop scleroderma with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing scleroderma. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.

Factors that can increase your risk of developing scleroderma include:


The morphea type of scleroderma usually strikes people around 20-40 years old. Linear scleroderma often occurs in children. Systemic scleroderma, limited or diffuse, is more likely to occur in people aged 30-50 years old.


Women are 3-4 times more likely as men to develop scleroderma.

Genetic Factors    TOP

People who have family members with autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, have an increased likelihood of developing scleroderma.

Ethnic Background    TOP

Young African-American women have a higher rate of systemic scleroderma and tend to have more severe forms of the disease. People of European descent more often get the localized form.

Environmental Factors    TOP

A number of chemical exposures, like coal mining and gold mining, may increase the risk of scleroderma. Examples of occupational chemicals thought to increase the risk include:

  • Ketones
  • Silica
  • Epoxy resins
  • Welding fumes
  • Polyvinyl chlorides
  • Aromatic and chlorinated solvents
  • Toluene
  • Trichloroethylene


Diot E, Lesire V, et al. Systemic sclerosis and occupational risk factors: a case-control study. Occup Environ Med. 2002;59(8):545-549.
Systemic sclerosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated August 5, 2013. Accessed August 8, 2013.
Scleroderma. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated August 2012. Accessed August 8, 2013.
What is scleroderma? Scleroderma Foundation website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed August 8, 2013.
11/9/2015 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Kuo CF, Grainge MJ, Valdes AM, et al. Familial aggregation of systemic lupus erythematosus and coaggregation of autoimmune diseases in affected families. JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(9):1518-1526.
Last reviewed May 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 11/9/2015


EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.