Scleroderma Symptoms & Causes

What are the types of scleroderma?

There are two forms of scleroderma: localized scleroderma and systemic sclerosis.

  • Localized scleroderma is seen more frequently in children than the systemic form. It may involve patches of the skin on the trunk, arms, legs or head. Other names for the localized form are morphea and linear scleroderma.
  • Systemic sclerosis occurs only rarely in children. It is a chronic, degenerative disease that affects the joints, skin and internal organs. This type of scleroderma is also associated with blood vessel abnormalities.

What causes scleroderma?

Scleroderma is considered to be a multifactorial condition, meaning that "many factors" are involved in causing it. The factors are usually both genetic and environmental—a combination of genes from both parents, in addition to unknown environmental factors, produce the condition.

What are the symptoms of scleroderma?

Again, scleroderma can lead to scarring of the skin, joints, and other internal organs, but it's important to remember that each child may experience scleroderma differently.

Symptoms of systemic sclerosis may include:

  • thickening and swelling of the tips of the fingers
  • pale and tingly fingers that may become numb when exposed to cold or when emotionally upset (called Raynaud phenomenon)
  • joint pain
  • morning stiffness
  • taut, shiny darker skin on large areas such as the face that may hinder movement
  • appearance of spider veins
  • calcium bumps on the fingers or other bony areas
  • grating noise as inflamed tissues move
  • frozen (immobile) fingers, wrists or elbows due to scarring of the skin
  • sores on fingertips and knuckles
  • scarring of the esophagus, leading to heartburn and difficulty swallowing
  • scarring of the lungs, leading to shortness of breath
  • heart failure and abnormal heart rhythms
  • kidney disease

Symptoms of localized scleroderma may include:

  • shiny, thickened patches of skin
  • discolored (lighter or darker) skin
  • joint tightness