What is scleroderma?
Scleroderma is a rare, progressive, and chronic autoimmune connective tissue disorder that causes collagen accumulation.
“Sclero” means “hard”, and “derma” means skin – together, you have scleroderma but hard, thickening skin is not the only characteristic of the disease although it is amongst one of the most common. Less visible, but of major importance, as the vascular lesions that occur in the small blood vessels which can affect major organs. Normally, collagen helps to keep tissue soft however, in scleroderma, the overproduction of collagen causes the opposite effect. This results in thickening, hardening, and scarring of tissues. These affected tissues can be further compromised by reduced blood flow through the small blood vessels. Learn more about treatment and diagnosis of scleroderma here.
Types of scleroderma
Localized scleroderma is limited to the skin and surrounding tissues and does not affect internal organs. This type of scleroderma can improve or go away on it's own over time however, it does cause damage when the disease is active (e.g., skin changes). Localized scleroderma presents itself as either morphea or linear. Some people have both morphea and linear scleroderma.
Systemic scleroderma affects the skin as well as the underlying tissues and is characterized by vascular lesions in blood vessels and major organs. System sclerosis is a further sub-divided into three distinct forms: Limited Systemic Sclerosis, Diffuse Systemic Sclerosis, and Sine Systemic Sclerosis.
Every year, in partnership with Scleroderma Canada, Scleroderma Society of Ontario provides funding to physicians and researchers seeking to develop scleroderma findings for the purpose of diagnoses and treatment. Stay informed with up-to-date research by following us on social media or frequently checking our Research page.
Learn more about scleroderma by checking out our frequently asked questions (FAQs) below!