Subscribe to illnesses and disabilities email updates.
Scleroderma (sklair-oh-DUR-muh) is a group of diseases that cause abnormal growth of connective tissue. There are two main types. One type only affects the skin. The other affects the blood vessels and internal organs, as well as the skin. In severe cases, it can cause liver failure.
Scleroderma has many possible symptoms, which can be mild to severe. Not all people with scleroderma have the same symptoms. Some symptoms are:
- Fingers and toes that turn white, red, or blue in response to heat or cold
- Pain, stiffness, and swelling of fingers and joints
- Thickening of skin
- Skin that looks shiny on the hands and forearm
- Tight and mask-like skin on the face
- Sores on the fingers or toes
- Trouble swallowing
- Weight loss
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Shortness of breath
Scleroderma has no known cure. But treatments can reduce symptoms and damage. Still, living with scleroderma can be hard. Scleroderma can damage your skin and change the way it looks, which can affect self-esteem. People with scleroderma also can have problems dressing, bathing, or taking care of everyday tasks. Treatment and support can help you feel better and stay active.
Explore other publications and websites
Coping With Scleroderma (Copyright © Scleroderma Foundation) — Getting diagnosed with scleroderma can be an emotionally trying time. This brochure offers tips on how you can cope with the emotions and frustrations of a scleroderma diagnosis. It also includes resources that may be helpful along the journey.
Handout on Health: Scleroderma — This booklet describes the different forms of scleroderma and provides information on their symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment, including what patients can do to help manage the disease and the problems associated with it.
Localized Scleroderma (Copyright © Scleroderma Foundation) — This pamphlet provides information on the characterization of localized scleroderma, the prognosis, treatments, and possible complications.
Pulmonary Hypertension in Scleroderma (Copyright © Scleroderma Foundation) — This publication discusses the types of pulmonary hypertension that occur in patients with scleroderma. In addition, diagnosis and treatment options are discussed.
Raynaud's Phenomenon (Copyright © Arthritis Foundation) — This fact sheet provides a definition of Raynaud's phenomenon, as well as the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment options.
Scleroderma (Copyright © Arthritis Foundation) — This fact sheet offers detailed information on scleroderma. It describes the symptoms, causes, and treatment options. It also provides resources for more information.
Scleroderma and Sexuality (Copyright © Scleroderma Foundation) — This brochure explains how scleroderma can affect your sex life. It also offers tips and suggestions for how you and your partner can cope with the aspects of scleroderma that affect sexuality.
Tips for Living With Scleroderma (Copyright © Scleroderma Research Foundation) — This publication gives tips for coping with the common symptoms of scleroderma: Raynaud’s phenomenon, skin ulcers, stiff and painful joints, and skin, dental, and gastrointestinal problems.
What Is Scleroderma? (Copyright © Scleroderma Foundation) — This brochure offers detailed information on scleroderma, including its causes and symptoms.
Your Medications: A Guide to Better Understanding (Copyright © Scleroderma Foundation) — This online publication provides a chart of medications commonly used to treat scleroderma. It also explains how these medications work and the main side effects associated with their use.
Connect with other organizations
American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, Inc.
American College of Rheumatology
Scleroderma Research Foundation
Content last updated September 22, 2009.
Resources last updated September 22, 2009.
A federal government website managed by the Office on Women's Health in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
200 Independence Avenue, S.W. • Washington, DC 20201