What is scleroderma?

Scleroderma is an autoimmune disorder that may involve changes in the skin, blood vessels, muscles, and internal organs. There are two main types: localized scleroderma, which affects only the skin; and systemic scleroderma, which affects the blood vessels and internal organs, as well as the skin. These two main types also have sub-types.

Localized scleroderma subtypes include:

Systemic scleroderma subtypes include:

The underlying cause of scleroderma is currently unknown; however, some scientists suspect it may be related to a buildup of collagen in the skin and other organs due to an abnormal immune system response. Some cases of scleroderma are induced by environmental factors or occur in association with other underlying disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or Sjogren syndrome. There is no cure, but various treatments may relieve symptoms.

Last updated on 05-01-20

Is there a recommended diet for people with scleroderma?

We are not aware of published consensus guidelines regarding diet for people with scleroderma. Having overall nutritional status assessed to identify possible malnutrition is recommended, as nutritional intervention may be needed. Specific dietary recommendations may be made by a health care provider for people with scleroderma who have swallowing problems, gastroesophageal reflux, esophageal stricture, or other specific gastrointestinal symptoms.

Advocacy organizations have provided dietary or nutritional guidance for people with scleroderma. It is strongly recommended that all individuals consult with a registered dietitian or doctor with experience treating scleroderma before making any substantial changes to their diet.

Due to the unpredictable nature of scleroderma, spontaneous improvement of symptoms sometimes occurs and may continue for lengthy periods. Patients experiencing such remissions should be very cautious about attributing these remissions to a particular diet, drug or treatment.

Last updated on 05-01-20

How might scleroderma be treated?

There is no cure for scleroderma, but treatments are available to relieve symptoms and limit damage to organs. Treatment varies depending on each person's symptoms.

Medications that may be used to treat scleroderma include:

Other treatments for specific symptoms may include:

  • Drugs for heartburn or swallowing problems (proton pump inhibitors)
  • Prokinetic agents to speeding the movement of food through the stomach and intestines
  • Antibiotics to address malabsorption syndrome
  • Blood pressure medications (particularly ACE inhibitors) for high blood pressure or kidney problems
  • Antihistamines and skin moisturizers to relieve itching
  • Medicines to prevent (e.g., Bosentan) or treat (e.g., iloprost) ulcers
  • Medicines to improve breathing (See: Pulmonary hypertension)
  • Medicines to treat lung scarring (e.g., cyclophosphamide)
  • Medications to treat Raynaud's phenomenon (e.g., nifedipine, iloprost)

More detailed information regarding the treatment of scleroderma can be accessed through Medscape Reference.

Last updated on 05-01-20

Selected Full-Text Journal Articles

Scleroderma Clinical Trials Consortium

Select volumes of the Scleroderma Care and Research Journal __ can be viewed by visiting the Scleroderma Clinical Trials Consortium Web site. Click on the link above to learn more.

Last updated on 04-27-20

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:
Name: American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) 22100 Gratiot Avenue
Eastpointe, MI, 48021, United States
Phone: 586-776-3900 Toll Free: 800-598-4668 Fax : 586-776-3903 Email: Url:
Name: Steffens Scleroderma Foundation PO Box 38037
Albany, NY, 12203,
Name: Scleroderma Society of Ontario 41 King William Street, Suite 202
Hamilton, ON, L8R 1A2, Canada
Phone: +1-905-544-0343 Toll Free: 1-888-776-7776 (Helpline) Email: Url:
Name: Scleroderma & Raynaud's UK SRUK 18-20 Bride Lane
London, EC4Y 8EE, United Kingdom
Phone: 020 7000 1925 (Office) Toll Free: 0800 311 2756 (Helpline) Email: Url:

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