Scleroderma | Symptoms

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What are the symptoms of localized scleroderma?

There are 2 types of localized scleroderma:

  • Morphea. Symptoms may start with reddish patches of skin that thicken into hardened, oval-shaped areas. The patches later become whitish in the middle with purple borders. Patches usually appear on the chest, stomach and back, but can also affect the face, arms and legs. People who have this type of scleroderma may have 1 or more patches that can be as small as half an inch and as large as 12 inches in diameter.
  • Linear. This type of scleroderma causes a single line or band of skin that thickens and changes color. The line can appear on an arm, a leg or the forehead. Linear scleroderma is more common in children.

What are the symptoms of systemic scleroderma?

There are 2 types of systemic scleroderma:

  • Limited scleroderma progresses gradually. This type affects the skin of the fingers, hands, lower arms, legs and face. Like in localized scleroderma, patches of skin become thick and firm, and change color. People who have this type scleroderma may also have Raynaud’s disease. If their intestines are affected, they may have problems with frequent heartburn. Limited scleroderma may also affect the lungs, esophagus and blood vessels.
  • Diffuse scleroderma progresses quickly. People who have this type of scleroderma are often tired, have little appetite and experience joint swelling and pain. It can affect the skin all over the body, causing it to swell, become shiny, tight and itchy. Eventually, skin becomes soft again, and may go back to normal. Diffuse scleroderma may also damage internal organs, such as the intestines, lungs, kidneys and heart.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 04/14
Created: 12/09

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