Systemic sclerosis and localized scleroderma both present with skin changes. They usually appear on the chest, stomach, and back, but occasionally on the face, arms, and legs.Findings may include: Waxy patches on the skin of varying sizes, shapes and colorTight skin over face that makes it hard to change expressionThick and tight skin on the fingersSkin creases diminish or disappearChanges in the skin as areas of affected skin lose hair and become stiff, hard, thick, and shinyWhitish bumps of calcium deposits develop under the skin, known as calcinosis
Tiny purplish-red blood vessels appear under the skin—telangiectasiasSores or ulcers on the fingers
Systemic sclerosis may also involve a wide variety of symptoms.
In most cases the first symptoms are associated with
Raynaud’s phenomenon Changes in skin color of the fingertips, toes, and nose in response to cold or emotional stressSkin usually turns very white when first exposed to cold, then blue, then very redMay be accompanied by pain, tingling, numbnessSystemic sclerosis may also cause
ArthritisMuscle pain and weakness
Dry eyes and mouth—Sjögren’s syndromeDigestive problems, such as: Heartburn
Difficulty swallowing—due to impaired function of the esophagusConstipationDiarrheaWeight lossLung, heart, and kidney problems, such as: Shortness of breath
Abnormal heart rhythms—arrhythmiasReduced kidney function
Scleroderma. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at:
https://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Scleroderma/default.asp. Updated August 2016. Accessed November 29, 2016.
What is scleroderma? Scleroderma Foundation website. Available at:
http://www.scleroderma.org/site/PageServer?pagename=patients_whatis#.WEhnf02QzIV. Accessed November 29, 2016.
Last reviewed November 2016 by Michael Woods, MD
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