Scleroderma


Skin | Dermatology | Scleroderma (Disease)


Description

Scleroderma (also known as systemic sclerosis) is a chronic disease that causes the skin to become thick and hard; a buildup of scar tissue; and damage to internal organs such as the heart and blood vessels, lungs, stomach and kidneys. Scleroderma symptoms vary widely and they range from minor to life-threatening, depending on how widespread the disease is and which parts of the body are affected.

Causes and Risk factors

The cause of scleroderma is not known. Genetic factors (different genes) appear be important in the disease. Although exposure to certain chemicals may play a role in some people having scleroderma, the vast majority of patients with scleroderma do not have a history of exposure to any suspicious toxins. The cause of scleroderma is likely quite complicated.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Because no two cases of Scleroderma are alike, identifying your disease subtype, stage, and involved organs is very important in determining the best course of action for treatment.

Current therapies use medications that focus on the four main features of the disease: inflammation, autoimmunity, vascular disease, and tissue fibrosis. The most popular approach to controlling the inflammatory phase of scleroderma is the use of immunosuppressive therapy. The rationale is that an autoimmune process is causing the inflammation and the downstream result is tissue damage and fibrosis.

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