Scleroderma refers to a range of disorders like the skin, and connective tissues are tightened and harden. It is a long-term chronic, autoimmune, and progressive disease. This disease tends to make gradually worse.
It is considered a rheumatic disease, which is connective tissue disorder. It is also considered an autoimmune condition, in which the own immune system of the body attacks by the tissues of the body.
This results in an overproduction of collagen, one type of protein which forms the basis of connective tissue. As a result, there is a thickening, or fibrosis, and scarring of tissue.
What are the symptoms seen of Scleroderma?
Scleroderma means “hard skin.” Earlier symptoms of scleroderma include something change in the fingers and hands. For example, stiffness, tightness, and puffiness because of sensitivity for cold or emotional stress.
There are other symptoms of Scleroderma like
1) Calcium deposits in the connective tissues
2) A narrow blood vessel from the hands to feet.
3) There are problems of the esophagus that connects the throat and stomach
4) Seen tight, thick skin on the fingers
5) Red spots are seen on the face and hands
6) Persistent cough
7) Shortness of breath
9) Weight Loss
10) Hair Loss
Besides these, symptoms will vary according to the type of scleroderma, and how it affects the person, it may affect one part of the body or a whole body.
What are the types of Scleroderma that generally occur?
The scleroderma is categorized into two main parts. One is Localized scleroderma, and other is Systematic scleroderma
Localized scleroderma mainly affects the skin, but it may have an effect on the muscles and bones.
Systemic scleroderma affects severely the whole body, including the blood and internal organs, especially the kidneys, esophagus, heart, and lungs.
Localized Scleroderma: Localized scleroderma is the mild form of scleroderma. It does not affect the internal organs. There are two main types of scleroderma-like morphea and linear scleroderma.
1) Morphea: Symptoms of this type include oval-shaped patches of light or dark skin, which might be itchy, hairless, and shiny. The shapes have a purple border outside, and they are white in the middle area
2) Linear scleroderma: There might be bands or streaks of hard skin on the limbs, and very rare in the head and face. It can affect both bones and muscles.
Systemic Scleroderma: Systemic scleroderma affects blood circulation in the body and the internal organs.
There are two types of systemic scleroderma
1) Limited cutaneous systemic sclerosis syndrome
2) Diffuse systemic sclerosis
1) Insufficient Cutaneous Systemic Sclerosis Syndrome: Limited cutaneous systemic sclerosis is the rare severe type of systemic scleroderma. It affects the skin of the hands, feet, face, lower arms, and legs. There might be problems in the blood vessels, lungs, and the overall digestive system.
2) Diffuse Systemic Sclerosis: In diffuse systemic sclerosis, the thick skin usually affects the area from the hands to above of the wrists. It also affects the internal organs of the body. People are suffering from this type of scleroderma may experience weakness, fatigue, difficulty breathing, swallowing, and weight loss.
What are the causes of Scleroderma disease?
It is not known what the causes of scleroderma are, but it is seen that it is an autoimmune condition that causes the body producing too much connective tissue. As a result, it leads to thickening, or fibrosis, and scarring of tissue.
Connective tissue forms the fibers, which make the framework that supports the body. Fibers are found under the skin and around the internal organs and blood vessels, and they help to support muscles and bones.
Genetic factors and environmental factors are considered playing a role. But it is not confirmed.
Sometimes it is considered that scleroderma often comes from families where another autoimmune disease exists.
What is the diagnosis procedure, or how can we detect Scleroderma?
Scleroderma might be hard to diagnose but not impossible. Because it develops slowly and comes in different forms. Some of the symptoms, like GERD, which can occur in people without scleroderma. The patient may be transferred to a rheumatologist or a specialist in joint and connective tissue diseases.
The following tests are essential for diagnosis
1) look at the skin under a microscope for checking the changes in the tiny blood vessels, or capillaries, around the fingernails
2) Skin biopsy
3) blood tests to identify the levels of specific antibodies
What is the treatment of the typical disease Scleroderma?
There is currently no chance of cure for scleroderma, and there is no medication that can stop the overproduction of collagen. Organic system complications can be treated for minimizing damage and maintain functionality.
The treatment always depends on how the disease affects individual
Blood pressure medicine might help to dilate the blood vessels. This can reduce the problems of the organs, such as the lungs and the kidneys.
Immunosuppressants might calm or suppress the immune system.
Physical therapy may help managing pain, improve mobility, and improve strength. Aids, such as splints, might be beneficial with daily tasks.
Ultraviolet light therapy and laser surgery may help to improve the condition and the appearance of the skin.
What are the complications patients feel in suffering Scleroderma?
The complications of scleroderma range in severity from mild to life-threatening.
1) Daily Movement
2) Lung Complication
3) Kidney Damage
4) Heart Problem
5) Dental Problems
6) Sexual Function
7) Thyroid gland