The exact cause of scleroderma is not known. It may be due to genetics, the environment, or a problem with how the immune system works.

Risk Factors

Scleroderma is more common in females. It often starts between 20 and 50 years of age.

The risk of this problem is raised in people who have other family members with lupus.



Symptoms vary from person to person. Some problems may be:

  • Numbness, discomfort, or a change in skin color in the fingers and toes
  • Tight, thickened, or shiny skin
  • Muscle pain
  • Diarrhea or problems passing stool
Raynaud Phenomenon Symptom
Low blood flwo to fingers, vasoconstriction
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The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done.

Blood tests may be done to look for antibodies linked to scleroderma.

A sample of skin may be tested. This can be done with a biopsy.

Pictures of the body may be taken. This can be done with:



There is no cure. The goal of treatment is to manage the symptoms a person is having. Choices are:

  • Medicines to:
    • Ease pain and swelling
    • Treat skin changes
    • Widen blood vessels
    • Suppress the immune system
    • Reduce stomach acid
  • Physical therapy to help with strength and flexibility
  • Occupational therapy to learn how to do day-to-day activities
  • Phototherapy to thin out the skin


There are no known guidelines to prevent scleroderma.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.