It can affect several parts of the body including connective tissues, which are the framework and support of the body.
A doctor can diagnose the disease through physical exams, blood tests, or biopsies of tissues. A breathing test or scan of the lungs and heart may also be required.
There is no cure but medications can be prescribed depending on the area that is affected.
Scleroderma on the fingers or toes develops Raynaud's phenomenon, which is the discoloration of skin due to climate changes or emotional distress.
Patches of infected skin will vary in size and location but are generally characterized by shiny ovals or straight lines. The skin becomes so tight that movement of the area is greatly restricted.
Antibiotic ointments may be prescribed to prevent infections like gangrene, which can lead to amputations.
Scleroderma can be visible on the lips. It will make the mouth smaller and narrower. People will have problems cleaning their teeth, which can lead to dental decay.
In the digestive tract scleroderma will create problems absorbing nutrients. The food will not move properly through the system, which can cause further problems like acid reflux disease.
Antacids can be taken to relieve symptoms of heartburn. They can either be prescribed or purchased over-the-counter.
It is rare for the heart, lungs, or kidneys to become infected; if they are, the disease will directly affect the function of the internal organs and can be life-threatening. Transplants may be required.