Overlap Diseases - Scleroderma
Scleroderma (Systemic Sclerosis)
Scleroderma is a chronic connective tissue disease where an overproduction of collagen in the body can affect the skin and internal organs. The name ‘scleroderma’ is drawn from two Greek words ‘sclero’ which means hard and ‘derma’ which means skin, with hardening of the skin being one of the most prominent manifestations of the Scleroderma.
- Localised Scleroderma
- This form is usually mild, will localised patches of thickened skin. There is generally no organ involvement with this form of Scleroderma
- Systemic Scleroderma
- This type may affect connective tissues in various parts of the body including the skin, oesophagus, gastrointestinal tract, lungs, kidneys, heart and other internal organs. It can also affect the muscles, joints and blood vessels. The hardening of these organs and tissues can cause them to function less efficiently. The majority of those with Systemic Scleroderma also have Raynaud’s phenomenon.
Treatment for Scleroderma varies according to the severity of the condition and it can include a number of different medications including: Immunsuppressants to suppress the immune system and slow the progression of the disease; high doses of steroids to lessen or slow down damage to skin and organs and medication used to dilate the blood vessels to help prevent lung and kidney problems, and treat Raynaud’s. Physiotherapy and stretching exercises are also important, as is regularly moisturising any tight skin. Your physiotherapist, skin specialist or GP will advise you.