What causes morphea?

The underlying cause of morphea is poorly understood. Theories on the cause are often drawn from studies of systemic sclerosis. A variety of factors, including autoimmunity, genetics, and vascular dysfunction may play a role in morphea. Multiple environmental factors (such as radiation, infections, skin trauma, or environmental exposures) also have been proposed as contributors to the development of morphea.

Last updated on 05-01-20

What is the long-term outlook for people with morphea?

Morphea usually has a benign, self-limited course and life expectancy is typically normal. When lesions are superficial and circumscribed, the skin condition tends to slowly go away with time, with each individual lesion lasting an average of 3-5 years. However, some patients develop new lesions over their lifetimes. Even after morphea resolves, changes in skin color may last for years.

Linear morphea usually lasts longer, but also eventually improves. Linear and deep (panslerotic) morphea may cause considerable morbidity, especially in children, interfering with growth. Joint contractures, limb- length discrepancy, and prominent facial atrophy (shrinkage of underlying tissues) can cause substantial disability and deformity in people with linear or deep morphea. Limbs affected by severe morphea may be stiff and weak if there is muscle wasting.

Last updated on 05-01-20

How might morphea be treated?

Treatment for morphea is aimed at controlling the symptoms and depends on the severity and body surface area involved. In general, active disease (present <3 months or with symptoms of inflammation) is most responsive to treatment. Because morphea typically goes away on its own eventually, treating the condition is optional for uncomplicated, localized cases.

The majority of adults with morphea are managed with observation, topical medications, or phototherapy. Aggressive, systemic therapy with methotrexate and/or glucocorticoids is needed for those with active, deep morphea; lesions that may cause significant cosmetic disfigurement; joint contractures; or other functional impairment. Occupational and physical therapy are also important for those at risks for physical limitations. Phototherapy is also preferred for those with generalized morphea, but it is not an option for those with deep morphea due to the poor ability of ultraviolet light to penetrate deep tissues.

Detailed information about how morphea might be treated can be viewed here on Medscape Reference's website.

Last updated on 05-01-20

Name: Scleroderma Foundation 300 Rosewood Drive, Suite 105
Danvers, MA, 01923, United States
Phone: +1-978-463-5843 Toll Free: 1-800-722-4673 (HOPE) Fax : +1-978-463-5809 Email: Url:
Name: International Scleroderma Network (ISN) 7455 France Ave So #266
Edina, MN, 55435-4702 , United States
Phone: +1-952-831-3091 Toll Free: 1-800-564-7099 Email: Url:
Name: Scleroderma Research Foundation 220 Montgomery Street, Suite 484
San Francisco, CA, 94104 , United States
Phone: +1-415-834-9444 Email: Url:

Connect with other users with Morphea on the RareGuru app

Do you have information about a disease, disorder, or syndrome? Want to suggest a symptom?
Please send suggestions to RareGuru!

The RareGuru disease database is regularly updated using data generously provided by GARD, the United States Genetic and Rare Disease Information Center.

People Using the App

Join the RareGuru Community

To connect, share, empower and heal today.

People Using the App