Risk Factors for Scleroderma
by Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD
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 presents itself in people aged 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.
People who have family members with autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, have an increased likelihood of developing scleroderma.
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.
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:
Diot E, Lesire V, Guilmot JL, et al. Systemic sclerosis and occupational risk factors: a case-control study. Occup Environ Med. 2002;59(8):545-549.
Localized scleroderma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated June 4, 2013. Accessed November 29, 2016.
Scleroderma. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Scleroderma/default.asp. Updated August 2016. Accessed November 29, 2016.
Systemic sclerosis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116347/Systemic-sclerosis. Updated June 9, 2016. Accessed November 29, 2016.
What is scleroderma? Scleroderma Foundation website. Available at:
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Accessed November 29, 2016.
11/9/2015 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116347/Systemic-sclerosis: 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 November 2016 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 11/9/2015
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