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Wearing gloves can help prevent symptoms of scleroderma.

Wearing gloves can help prevent symptoms of scleroderma.
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Scleroderma

Scleroderma is a disease affecting connective tissue (the tissue that connects joints, muscles, blood vessels and internal organs) in the body. The hallmark of scleroderma is hardening of the skin. Although scleroderma is currently not curable, treatment can help reduce symptoms.

What is scleroderma?

Scleroderma is an auto-immune condition, meaning the immune system attacks healthy tissue. Scleroderma involves overproduction of a protein called collagen in connective tissue. This results in hardening of the skin.

There are two types of scleroderma:

  • Localised scleroderma, which only affects skin.
  • Diffuse scleroderma, which affects internal organs or blood vessels as well as skin, also known as systemic sclerosis.

Scleroderma symptoms

The symptoms of scleroderma vary according to which part of your body is affected. Thickening and hardening of the skin is typical, especially on the fingers, arms and face.

Another common symptom is Raynaud’s phenomenon, which is a blood circulation problem that causes your fingers or toes to change colour and feel numb or painful in the cold. Primary Raynaud’s develops without any underlying condition whereas secondary Raynaud’s is linked to underlying disease, such as scleroderma.

Other symptoms of scleroderma include joint pain and stiffness, fatigue, indigestion or heartburn. Diffuse scleroderma can also cause symptoms related to the heart, lungs and kidneys.

Scleroderma diagnosis

Your doctor may diagnose scleroderma from talking to you and examining you – they may also take a blood test and a small skin sample (biopsy).

Scleroderma treatments

There is currently no cure for scleroderma. However, treatment can improve symptoms. Medication can improve blood circulation, and suppress the immune system, which may slow disease progress. If your organs are affected, you may be referred to a specialist, such as a kidney specialist if your kidneys are affected.

Lifestyle changes may make it easier to live with scleroderma. These include:

  • wearing gloves and socks to keep your hands and feet warm, to prevent Raynaud’s phenomenon
  • avoiding cigarette smoke, as this affects blood circulation
  • regular physical activity to help keep skin and joints flexible
  • keeping skin moisturised and clean to prevent dryness and infection
  • joining a support group such as Scleroderma Australia.

Last reviewed: May 2015

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Scleroderma - myDr.com.au

Scleroderma is a generalised disease which produces fibrosis, degeneration and inflammation of skin and other tissue. People with scleroderma have too much of a protein called collagen.

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We don’t know exactly what causes scleroderma but we know that it involves many factors.

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Scleroderma - ARRC - Autoimmune Resource & Research Centre

To read or print a fact sheet please click on the fact sheet of interest below: Scleroderma brochure Scleroderma Looking after your Hands Muscles & Joints Scleroderma Scleroderma Hand Exercises Scleroderma Mouth Exercises Scleroderma Swallowing Difficulties CREST Dealing with Bladder & Bowel Dental Brochure Eating Well Nutritional Needs for Scleroderma Travelling with Scleroderma Hospital Checklist Hospital Care Plan For more illness specific information please go back to the complete Health Information Factsheet List

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Scleroderma

This sheet has been written for people affected by scleroderma. It provides general information to help you understand how scleroderma affects you and what you can do to manage it. It also tells you where to find further information and advice

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To detect the presence of anticentromere antibodies; to help diagnose limited systemic sclerosis (previously termed limited scleroderma)

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Antibodies to Saline-extracted Antigens; anti-RNP; anti-ribonucleoprotein; anti-SSA; SSA (Ro); anti-Sjgren Syndrome A; anti-SSB; SSB (La); anti-Sjgren Syndrome B; anti-Sm; Smith antibody; Scl-70; anti-topoisomerase; Scleroderma antibodies; anti-Jo-1

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Progressive systemic sclerosis (PSS) - Lab Tests Online AU

PSS is a group ofconnective tissuedisorders with similar symptoms. They are associated with thickened, hardened skin,fibrosis, inflammation, blood vessel degeneration and tissue damage. PSS may be localised orsystemic. It may be confined to patches of skin on the trunk, face, or extremities, or may affect large areas of the body, penetrating deep into muscle, bone, and internal organs such as the heart, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and kidneys. Symptoms may range from cosmetic concerns to tissue damage and from pain and a decreased ability to move and use the hands to life-threatening kidney or lung dysfunction.

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Autoimmune disorders - Lab Tests Online AU

The immune system is the bodys means of protection against foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses. It is composed of two major parts. One component involves the production of antibodies, proteins that recognise foreign substances and cause them to be removed from the body. The other component involves specialised blood cells called T lymphocytes that can attack and kill foreign substances directly. Antibodies and T lymphocytes become protective only after they are exposed to a "foreign" substance for the first time. This is the reason that we use vaccinations: to allow our immune system to recognise weakened or inactivated forms of bacteria and viruses that can cause disease, so that we will be protected if we actually come in contact with them.

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