How to Say It: Sclare-oh-DER-mah
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Scleroderma is a disease that affects the whole body. It can cause the skin, joints, and internal organs to thicken and stiffen.
There are 2 main types:
The exact cause is not known. It may be due to genetics, the environment, or a problem with how the immune system works.
This health problem is more common in women. It often starts between 20 and 50 years of age.
The risk of this problem is raised in people who have other family members with lupus.
Symptoms differ from person to person and by type of scleroderma.
A person with the localized type may have:
A person with the systemic type may have:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
These tests may also be done:
Images may be taken of structures in your body. This can be done with:
There is no cure. The goal of treatment is to manage the symptoms a person is having. Choices are:
There are no known guidelines to prevent this health problem.
Scleroderma Research Foundation
Denton CP. Advances in pathogenesis and treatment of systemic sclerosis. Clin Med (Lond). 2015 Dec;15 Suppl 6:s58-63.
Localized scleroderma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/localized-scleroderma. Accessed December 1, 2020.
Scleroderma. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/scleroderma. Accessed December 1, 2020.
Systemic sclerosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/systemic-sclerosis. Accessed December 1, 2020.
What is scleroderma? Scleroderma Foundation website. Available at:
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Accessed December 1, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 4/23/2021