Morphea SclerodermaMedical Author: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR Is a chronic condition that causes inflammation and thickening of the skin. The cause of scleroderma is not known. Researchers have found some evidence that genes are important factors, but the environment seems to also play a role. This means that inheritance at least play a partial role. It is not unusual to find other autoimmune diseases in families of scleroderma patients. Some evidence for the role genes may play in leading to the development of scleroderma comes from the study of Choctaw Native Americans who are the group with the highest reported prevalence of the disease. The disease is more frequent in females than in males. Scleroderma facts
- Scleroderma is a disease of the connective tissue featuring skin thickening, that can involve scarring, blood vessel problems, varying degrees of inflammation, and is associated with an overactive immune system.
- Scleroderma is classified into localized scleroderma and systemic sclerosis.
- CREST syndrome is a limited form of systemic sclerosis.
- Patients with scleroderma can have specific antibodies (ANA, anticentromere or antitopoisomerase) in their blood which suggest autoimmunity.
- Treatment of scleroderma is directed toward the individual’s symptom(s) that is(are) most debilitating.
What is scleroderma?
Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease of the connective tissue featuring skin thickening, spontaneous scarring, blood vessel disease, varying degrees of inflammation, associated with an overactive immune system. Autoimmune diseases are illnesses that occur when the body’s tissues are attacked by its own immune system. Scleroderma is characterized by the formation of scar tissue (fibrosis) in the skin and organs of the body. This leads to thickness and firmness of involved areas. Scleroderma, when it’s diffuse or widespread over the body, is also referred to as systemic sclerosis.