|A Scleroderma Fact Sheet|
|Wednesday, 16 September 2009 16:01|
Below, is a very useful fact sheet on Scleroderma. Making for much easier reading and reference, this fact sheet highlights what Scleroderma is, how is it diagnosed, who gets it, complications which may arise, and how it can be treated. Feel free to print a copy to keep it close at hand, and even share with family and friends... And when you're done reading it through, you can test your knowledge of Scleroderma here.
What Is Scleroderma?
Scleroderma is a group of diseases that affect connective tissue in the body. This tissue supports your skin and internal organs. Scleroderma involves tissue that gets hard or thick. It can also cause swelling or pain in the muscles and joints. Some types of Scleroderma lead to hard, tight skin. Other types affect blood vessels and major organs (such as the heart, lungs, and kidneys).
What Causes Scleroderma?
The cause is unknown. You can’t catch it from other people. Doctors don’t think it is passed through genes (from parent to child).
What Are the Types of Scleroderma?
Scleroderma’s main types are localized and systemic. Localized means the disease affects only certain parts of the body. Systemic means it can affect the whole body.
Who Gets Scleroderma?
Scleroderma is more common in women than men. Anyone can get it, even children. In fact, approximately 80% of Scleroderma patients are female.
Most localized types show up before age 40, and are more common in people of European descent than in African Americans.
Systemic types are more common in people aged 30 to 50 and are more common in African Americans than in people of European descent.
How Is Scleroderma Diagnosed?
Doctors diagnose scleroderma using:
How Is Scleroderma Treated?
A rheumatologist (a doctor who treats arthritis and other diseases that cause swelling in the joints) may lead your health care team and refer you to other health experts for problems with:
Most people with scleroderma have Raynaud’s phenomenon. It can affect the fingers, feet, and hands. It makes them change color if you are too cold or anxious. To help, you can:
Stiff, Painful Joints
Stiffness and pain come from hard skin around joints and joint swelling. To help, you can:
With Scleroderma, collagen builds up in the skin. Too much of it can make your skin dry and stiff. To help, you can:
Dry Mouth and Dental Problems
If you have tight skin on your face, you may have trouble caring for your teeth. Dry mouth speeds up tooth decay. Harm to tissues in the mouth can loosen teeth. To avoid problems:
Digestive problems can include:
Scleroderma can cause very high blood pressure and kidney failure in some people. Learn to spot problems right away. You should:
Scleroderma can damage your skin and change how it looks. These skin changes can affect your self-image. Ways to fix skin damage include:
How Can Scleroderma Affect My Life?
People with scleroderma may worry about the way their skin looks. They may have problems dressing, bathing, or handling basic daily tasks. Scleroderma can affect:
What Can I Do?
You and your doctors are partners in your treatment. Be sure to:
You can also:
What Research Is Being Done on Scleroderma?
Current studies include: