A less severe form of scleroderma is called CREST.
The CREST syndrome represents symptoms including calcium skin deposits; Raynaud's phenomenon (a condition in which the blood vessels of the fingers and toes go into spasm when triggered by factors such as cold, stress, or illness; the result is cold, painful, or numb fingers and toes which in severe cases may become gangrenous); esophageal dysfunction (problems with the esophagus, the tube between the mouth and the stomach); sclerodactyly (skin damage on fingers); and telangiectasia (spider veins), limits skin damage to the fingers.
However, this disease, when coupled with pulmonary hypertension (elevated blood pressures within the lungs), can lead to heart and respiratory failure.
Scleroderma can be either a localized disease or a disease that affects the whole body. When it affects your whole body it is also called systemic sclerosis or systemic scleroderma. Scleroderma is a chronic, degenerative disease causing abnormal growth of the connective tissue that affects the joints, skin, and internal organs. Scleroderma is also associated with blood vessel abnormalities.
Scleroderma is thought to be an autoimmune disease, meaning that the body's immune system turns on itself. Although genes play a role in the disease, it is not passed on from parents to children. In addition, unknown environmental factors likely play a role.
Scleroderma can lead to scarring of the skin, joints, and other internal organs. The following are the most common symptoms of scleroderma. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
The symptoms of scleroderma may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.
In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, a diagnosis of scleroderma is usually based on the changes in the skin and internal organs. An antibody test may help distinguish the type of scleroderma present.
Specific treatment for scleroderma will be determined by your doctor based on:
Treatment may include:
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