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Systemic sclerosis and localized scleroderma both present with skin changes.

  • They usually appear on the chest, stomach, and back, but occasionally on the face, arms, and legs.
  • Findings may include:
    • Waxy patches on the skin of varying sizes, shapes and color
    • Tight skin over face that makes it hard to change expression
    • Thick and tight skin on the fingers
    • Skin creases diminish or disappear
    • Changes in the skin as areas of affected skin lose hair and become stiff, hard, thick, and shiny
    • Whitish bumps of calcium deposits develop under the skin, known as calcinosis
    • Tiny purplish-red blood vessels appear under the skin—telangiectasias
    • Sores or ulcers on the fingers

Systemic sclerosis may also involve a wide variety of symptoms.

  • In most cases the first symptoms are associated with Raynaud’s phenomenon
    • Changes in skin color of the fingertips, toes, and nose in response to cold or emotional stress
    • Skin usually turns very white when first exposed to cold, then blue, then very red
    • May be accompanied by pain, tingling, numbness
  • Systemic sclerosis may also cause
    • Arthritis
    • Muscle pain and weakness
    • Dry eyes and mouth—Sjögren’s syndrome
    • Digestive problems, such as:
    • Lung, heart, and kidney problems, such as:
      • Shortness of breath
      • Abnormal heart rhythms—arrhythmias
      • Reduced kidney function

References:

Localized scleroderma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114314/Localized-scleroderma. Updated June 4, 2013. Accessed November 29, 2016.

Scleroderma. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Scleroderma/default.asp. Updated August 2016. Accessed November 29, 2016.

Systemic sclerosis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116347/Systemic-sclerosis. Updated June 9, 2016. Accessed November 29, 2016.

What is scleroderma? Scleroderma Foundation website. Available at: http://www.scleroderma.org/site/PageServer?pagename=patients_whatis#.V2G4ck2FPIU. Accessed November 29, 2016.



Last reviewed November 2016 by Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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