Scleroderma—also called systemic sclerosis—is a chronic connective tissue disorder. It is classified as one of the autoimmune rheumatic conditions. While the disorder varies for each patient, scleroderma is not contagious, infectious, cancerous, or malignant.
What causes scleroderma?
The exact causes of scleroderma are still unknown, but scientists and researchers are working hard to make those determinations. It is known that scleroderma involves an overproduction of collagen.
What does scleroderma look like?
Hardening of the skin is the most visible manifestation of the condition.
How serious is scleroderma?
Symptoms vary for each person, and the effects of scleroderma can range from very mild to life-threatening. The seriousness depends on affected parts of the body and the extent to which they are affected. Mild cases can become more serious if not properly treated.
Who develops scleroderma—and when?
It’s estimated that about 300,000 Americans have scleroderma. About one-third of those people have the systemic form of scleroderma. Since scleroderma presents with symptoms similar to other autoimmune disorders, diagnosis can be difficult. There may be many misdiagnosed or undiagnosed cases.
Is scleroderma genetic?
Most patients do not have any relatives with scleroderma and their children do not get scleroderma. Research indicates there is a susceptibility gene, which raises the likelihood of getting scleroderma, but by itself does not cause the disorder.
How is scleroderma diagnosed?
The diagnostic process may require consultation with rheumatologists (arthritis specialists), and/or dermatologists (skin specialists) and require blood studies and numerous other specialized tests depending upon which organs are affected.
What is the treatment for scleroderma?
Currently there is no cure for scleroderma, but there are many treatments available to help symptoms.
For instance, some infusion therapies are directed at decreasing the activity of the immune system. Some people with mild cases may not need medication at all.
Occasionally people can go off treatment when their scleroderma is no longer active. Because there is so much variation from one person to another, there is great variation in the treatments prescribed.
How does ARJ treat scleroderma?
Early treatment makes a difference—and IVIg therapy is available for patients in the home.
ARJ nurses are experts at administering IVIg infusion treatments, which may minimize the symptoms of scleroderma and lessen the chance for irreversible damage. With regular treatment, people with scleroderma can find relief.
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