Scleroderma is a degenerative autoimmune disease that causes the skin as well as other organs of the body to become thick and hardened. Some potential scleroderma symptoms include skin thickening, tight skin, and numbness of the hands and feet. While there is no cure for this condition, there are several types of scleroderma therapy available to help reduce symptoms. Scleroderma therapy often includes a combination of lifestyle modification and the use of over-the-counter or prescription medications.
Lifestyle changes can be an important part of scleroderma therapy. Keeping warm is important, as patients with scleroderma are prone to developing a condition known as Raynaud's phenomenon. Raynaud's phenomenon is characterized by a blood vessel disorder and results in poor circulation, especially to the hands and feet. This often causes the hands and feet to feel cold, and low temperatures may actually cause the patient to feel a significant amount of pain.
Other lifestyle changes that may need to be incorporated into scleroderma therapy include getting enough sleep and avoiding harsh chemicals in soaps, detergents, and cleaning solutions. The skin should be moisturized several times per day in order to keep the skin as flexible as possible. Physical therapy is often beneficial and may help to keep the joints and muscles working properly, thereby slowing the progression of the disease.
Over-the-counter or prescription medications are often used as a part of scleroderma therapy. The types of medications used will vary from person to person and depend on the individual symptoms being experienced. Prescription medications are often used in an effort to prevent skin thickening. Over-the-counter medications such as acid reducers and antacids may help relieve some digestive problems that are common in those with scleroderma. Medications may need to be taken to regulate blood pressure, especially if kidney problems develop as a result of organ damage caused by scleroderma.
Joint pain is a common problem in patients with scleroderma. This makes pain management an important part of scleroderma therapy. Some patients may experience sufficient pain relief by using over-the-counter medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Other patients may require stronger prescription medications in order to reduce the pain to a tolerable level. Steroid medications may need to be used in some patients in order to reduce the swelling, inflammation, and stiffness that often affect the muscles and joints of patients with scleroderma.