Scleroderma is a widespread connective tissue disease that involves changes in the skin, blood vessels, muscles, and internal organs.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The cause of scleroderma is unknown. People with this condition have a buildup of a substance called collagen in the skin and other organs. This buildup leads to the symptoms of the disease.The disease usually affects people 30 to 50 years old. Women get scleroderma more often than men do.


Localized scleroderma usually affects only the skin on the hands and face. Its course is very slow, and it rarely, if ever, spreads throughout the body (becomes systemic) or causes serious complications.
Systemic scleroderma is also called systemic sclerosis. This form of the disease may affect the organs of the body, large areas of the skin, or both. This form of scleroderma has two main types: limited and diffuse scleroderma.

Skin symptoms may include:

  • Blanching, blueness, or redness of fingers and toes in response to heat and cold
  • Hair loss
  • Skin hardness
  • Skin that is abnormally dark or light
  • Skin thickening, stiffness, and tightness of fingers, hands, and forearm
  • Small white lumps beneath the skin, sometimes oozing a white substance that looks like toothpaste
  • Sores (ulcerations) on fingertips or toes
  • Tight and mask-like skin on the face


There is still no treatment for the disease process of scleroderma. However, certain drugs and treatments help combat the complications.

Drugs used to treat scleroderma include:

  • Corticosteroids
  • Immune suppressing medications
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).