The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medications listed below. Only the most general side effects are included, so ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medications as advised by your doctor, or according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your doctor.
There are no medications available to cure or halt the progression of scleroderma. Scleroderma is treated on a symptom-by-symptom basis.
These drugs are given in an effort to slow or halt the progression of scleroderma. While research has yet to prove that these drugs can actually modify scleroderma’s course, they are often given anyway. They are all immunosuppressive agents. Because scleroderma is believed to be caused (at least in part) by an overactive immune system, it is hoped that calming the immune system’s activity will slow scleroderma’s progress.
Non-biological DMARDs may include methotrexate and cyclophosphamide. Biologic DMARDs may include antithymocyte globulin, imatinib, or rituximab
Possible side effects include: NauseaDiarrheaLiver inflammationBladder inflammationKidney damageNerve damageInfectionsHigh blood pressure
Although some NSAIDs are available as over-the-counter medications, you may be given a prescription in order to obtain a higher dosage. NSAIDs help reduce inflammation, swelling, and joint pain.
Possible side effects include: Stomach upsetStomach ulcersGastrointestinal bleedingKidney damageLiver inflammationConfusion
Corticosteroids are strong anti-inflammatory agents. They are given to reduce swelling, inflammation, and joint pain.
Possible side effects for short-term use (about 3 weeks or less) include: Difficulty sleepingIncreased appetiteMood swingsIncreases in blood pressureIncreased blood sugar, especially in people with diabetes
Possible side effects for long-term use (about 3 weeks or longer) include: Weakening of the immune system and an increased risk of developing infections
Thinning, weak bones—osteoporosisCataracts,
IndigestionSwelling in the hand, face, and legsEasy bruisingGastritis
Calcium-channel blockers can reduce the symptoms of
by relaxing blood vessels. This allows better blood circulation through the fingers, toes, and the tip of the nose. When exposed to cold, you’ll have less trouble with skin blanching and less numbness and tingling. Use of calcium-channel blockers can reduce the chance of developing sores or ulcers on your fingertips.
Calcium-channel blockers may also be given to treat high blood pressure.
Possible side effects include: Low blood pressureConstipationNauseaLightheadednessHeadacheSwelling
These medications are used for Raynaud's phenomenon that is not responding to other forms of treatment. They are also used to heal digital ulcerations and to treat pulmonary hypertension associated with scleroderma.
May include bosentan, ambrisentan, or
Possible side effects include: Life threatening pulmonary artery pressure changesLiver damageBlood pressure changes
Blood pressure medications are given to lower high blood pressure.
May include angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or calcium-channel blockers.
Possible side effects include: Flushing of the skinCoughHeadachesNauseaJaw painFainting
Prostanoids are given to improve circulation of blood.
Possible side effects include: Low blood pressureDry mouthCoughLightheadednessDiarrhea or constipation
Antibiotics may be given to help treat the diarrhea of scleroderma, which is often caused by an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine.
Possible side effects include: NauseaVomitingAntibiotic allergic reactionIncreased sun sensitivity
H-2 blockers help decrease acid production in the stomach. They may be given to help with
Possible side effects include: LightheadednessConfusionHeadacheDiarrhea
Proton pump inhibitors decrease acid production in the stomach. They may be given to help with heartburn, indigestion, and difficulty swallowing.
Possible side effects include: LightheadednessHeadacheDiarrhea
These medications are given to improve difficulty swallowing.
Possible side effects include: Heart rhythm problemsDiarrheaStomach upset, crampingHeadacheLightheadednessSleepiness