Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors
"Can scleroderma affect my organs as well as my skin?"
I have scleroderma on my skin but recently I've started feeling ill. Could it affect my insides too?
Scleroderma is a very complex disease that effects people in very different ways. In general the disease can be divided into two general categories. 1. limited scleroderma, and 2. systemic scleroderma. The first one primary effects the skin and occasionally another organ. Sometimes people with this category of scleroderma get the CREST syndrome. This syndrome is an acronym for the 5 symptoms: calcinosis, Raynaud's phenomenon, esophageal problems, sclerodactyly, and telangiectasias. In layman's terms, this means that your skin will be harder with calcium deposits. Raynaud's phenomenon is when the fingers get cold and even blue-white in cold weather. Esophageal problems make it harder to swallow. Sclerodactyly makes the skin around the fingers taut. And telangiectasias tiny visible blood vessels in the skin. Systemic scleroderma affects other internal organs other than the blood vessels and esophagus. So the answer to your question is yes, scleroderma can affect organs as well as your skin. Since you are feeling ill, I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your rheumatologist. He or she can listen to your description of your symptoms and perform a thorough physical exam. If your symptoms are do to scleroderma, your doctor may want to modify your treatment plan and strategy. Good luck.
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