June might mean the official start of summer and the end of the traditional school year, but it’s also National Scleroderma Awareness Month.
So what exactly is Scleroderma, and why should we be talking about it? How many suffer from it?
The answer to those, and more questions, are below.
What is Scleroderma?
Scleroderma is an autoimmune, connective tissue disease that causes hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissues. It can progress to other organs such as the heart, lungs, kidneys or digestive tract. There are two classifications of Scleroderma, Localized Scleroderma and Systematic Scleroderma. It is not contagious, it typically affects adults ages 30 to 50 and occurs more often in women than in men.
How many people suffer from it?
It is estimated that 300,000 Americans suffer from Scleroderma, according to the Scleroderma Foundation. Because Scleroderma has symptoms similar to other autoimmune diseases, it is difficult to diagnose.
What different types of Scleroderma are there?
There are two different classifications for Scleroderma, Localized and Systematic.
Localized Scleroderma usually affects the skin and rarely spreads elsewhere, while Systematic Scleroderma can affect other organs of the body besides the skin.
What are symptoms of Scleroderma?
Symptoms can include waxy patches on the skin of varying sizes, shapes and color, and streaks or lines of hardened skin on an arm, leg or forehead.
How can you treat it?
There is no cure for Scleroderma, but there are several treatment options, according to Johns Hopkins. Those include:
- Anti-inflammatory medications or corticosteroids.
- Skin lotions and moisturizers.
- Physical therapy and exercise to maintain muscle strength.
- Blood pressure medication.
- Medication that suppresses the immune system.