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Veterinarian Reviewed on June 22, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
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The term scleroderma means hard skin in English language. A person suffering from this develops patches of hard skin and connective tissues on face or limbs. In one way this is somewhat similar to arthritis wherein a person’s antibodies start working against his or her own tissues. It is a chronic condition and generally develops in people in the ages of 35 to 50. It appears in two forms, external and internal.

When this thickening of the skin is external, dry patches appear on hands and face which thicken overtime. This is known as localized scleroderma. When it develops in internal organs like heart, kidneys, lungs, esophagus, gastro-intestinal tract and blood vessels, it is known as systemic scleroderma. Unfortunately scleroderma has no known care; hence it usually ends up leading to depression and low self-esteem in the sufferer.


Scleroderma is most commonly caused by genetic and environmental factors. Other than these reasons,there are no exact causes for this disease. In the affected person, the body starts to produce more collagen that accumulates on the skin. This makes it hard and dry. This happens mostly because the immune system of the body starts to work against the body itself. As a result the inflammation occurs and collagen is overproduced. Some plastic materials and also rapeseed oil has been linked to the development of scleroderma. Exposure to chemicals like silica dust may also result in this disease.

Signs and Symptoms

While most of the symptoms of this disease are external, others may be internal too. The physical signs of developing scleroderma include changes in the color of the affected skin. Later, it hardens and thickens. Also there may be numbness on this area. Sometimes there may be pain in cheeks, nose, earns and fingers due to unknown causes or may be due to increased sensitivity to cold. There may also be discomfort in joints including their swelling and stiffness. This may be especially experienced in the phalanges.

Other symptoms include difficulty in breathing, problems in digestion, bloating and also pain in the abdomen. The person may also experience sexual dysfunction. The eyes also become dry. It is very difficult to diagnose scleroderma in early stages but blood test, MRI etc. can help in the diagnosis.

Treatment Options

There are no known treatments for scleroderma which can rectify the problem completely. Some topical lotions like moisturizers or corticosteroids may be applied to get relief from localized scleroderma. It is advisable to protect against any other kinds of infection for the patients of scleroderma. The physician often prescribes annual vaccination of flu and pneumonia for scleroderma patients.

For the treatment of internal scleroderma, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory medications are given to help from the thickening of internal organs lining. Calcium-channel blockers, immune-suppressants or ACE inhibitors are also given for systemic scleroderma. These medication help to promote effective kidney function, improves digestion and boosts circulation. They also control high blood pressure and inflammation.

Holistic Treatments

Some herbal and homeopathic remediesalong with effective homecare can help to get relief from the symptoms of both types of scleroderma. They boost the lymphatic system of the body and also general health of the skin. Herbs like Galium aperineand Trifolium pratense help to cleanse the body by purifying blood. Natrium muriaticum, Kalium muriaticum and Kalium sulphate are homeopathic ingredients that promote the healing of skin and regeneration.

Read also: How to Grow Hair Faster

Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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