Scleroderma is a rare autoimmune disease that mainly affects middle-aged women between the ages of 40 and 50. Etymologically, it means "hard dermis," implying that the disease typically progresses to a thickening and hardening of the skin. When only the skin tissue is affected, it is called localized scleroderma. The disease can however also affect deep tissue in other organs, in which case it is described as systemic sclerosis. Scleroderma is caused by an increase in collagen production associated with the presence of antibodies that fight against the body's own cells.
The symptoms of scleroderma vary greatly and multiply over the course of the disease. There are different names depending on the symptoms.
- localized scleroderma affects only the skin, most commonly the hands or face, with thickening and hardening.
- progressive sclerodactyly, initially present as Raynaud's syndrome, affects only the fingers in the form of circulatory disorders with pain and coldness.
- Changes may well be towards a widespread or systemic sclerosis, gradually affecting all organs and responsible for various symptoms depending on the damage.
In the case of suspected scleroderma, a blood test is necessary to look for certain antibodies that can help strengthen the suspicion. In case of presence of a specific antibody of the disease, the latter can be confirmed. Other tests may be interesting, particularly the study specific organs and the impact of the disease on them.
It is very difficult to treat scleroderma. Several treatments exist, but their effectiveness is questionable. Traditionally, treatments of different symptoms are put in place, with no effect on the disease's progression. So-called immunosuppressive therapy will be used in severe cases. Meanwhile, tobacco must be stopped, and protective guidelines in terms of physical maintenance and are recommended to fight against the cold.
Original article published by
. Translated by Jeff
Latest update on July 23, 2013 at 11:46 AM by Jeff.