What is Localized Scleroderma?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2018
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Localized scleroderma is an autoimmune condition that leads to the development of lesions of the skin and underlying issues. Unlike systemic scleroderma, it does not involve the internal organs. This condition can be relatively mild or it may lead to severe complications. Treatment usually involves visiting a dermatologist to address the skin problem, as well as a specialist in autoimmune disorders.

In people with localized scleroderma, parts of the skin experience thickening and hardening. Discoloration usually occurs and the patient's range of movement may be impaired by the stiffness in the skin. In linear scleroderma, the thickening takes the form of bands or lines. Morphea, another variation, involves irregular patches of surface hardening across the skin. The lesions can show up anywhere and at any time.

Once skin has been damaged by scleroderma, it cannot be repaired. The discoloration and tissue injury will be permanent. However, in some patients, steps can be taken to reduce the risk of damage and to prevent the scleroderma from spreading. Scleroderma cannot be cured, but it can be controlled and managed. In some patients, a single outbreak may be the only incidence of the disease.


During an outbreak, anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed to reduce swelling and inflammation and suppress the immune system so it will stop attacking the skin and connective tissue. Topical moisturizing and softening creams can be used to keep the skin supple, and some patients benefit from gentle stretching and physical therapy to maintain flexibility. Analgesics can also be provided for patients who experience pain.

Medications are available to treat localized scleroderma. They are not always effective and prescriptions will vary, depending on a patient's individual case and a doctor's experience with other patients. Seeing a specialist who is familiar with scleroderma can be beneficial, as it may provide access to the latest treatments and medications. Localized scleroderma clinical trials are also available, providing people with an opportunity to try new treatments under development. In addition to giving patients access to the drugs that would not otherwise be available, clinical trials also benefit other patients by providing a body of evidence to determine whether or not medications are effective.

The discoloration associated with localized scleroderma can be a source of embarrassment for some patients if it develops on areas of the body that are visible. It is important for people to remember that this condition is not contagious or dangerous.



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Post 1

The article is very informative. But at the same time it does not give anything relating to Scabies, ringworm and other tropical skin diseases which mostly comes on account of infection from another individual.

Moderator's reply: Thank you for visiting wiseGEEK and for posting. Unfortunately, it is impossible to cover every aspect of such a broad topic in a 400-500 word article.

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