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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.

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Content last updated: September 22, 2009.

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