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What is Linear Scleroderma?

Meshell Powell
Meshell Powell

Scleroderma is a medical condition that causes various tissues of the body to become thicker than normal. Abnormal scarring on the body may occur, as well as diseases affecting the blood vessels. Linear scleroderma is the term given when the disease affects just the face or one or both arms or legs. In some cases, bones and muscles may be involved as well. When present in children, linear scleroderma can cause stunted growth involving the bone of the limb affected with the disease.

Linear scleroderma is considered to be a primarily pediatric disease. This is due to the fact that most people with this disorder are affected in the first decade of life. Various types of connective tissue are affected by linear scleroderma. The cells that line the smaller arteries of the body develop an abnormally high amount of scar tissue on the skin of the body. This can cause a high degree of physical disfiguration, although the disease is rarely considered to be life-threatening.


Pain and inflammation are the most common symptoms of linear scleroderma. The amount of pain can vary from very mild to extremely excruciating. Some other possible symptoms include stiffness involving the hands or the feet, discoloration of the skin, and fatigue. The mucous membranes of the body may become dry, and the skin often feels very tight. Diagnosis is generally made based upon patient history as well as physical examination, although there are some tests that can help to monitor the progression of the disease.

There is no known cure for linear scleroderma. Therefore, treatment is aimed at keeping the patient as comfortable as possible. For instance, most patients with linear scleroderma also suffer from a condition known as Raynaud's phenomenon. In this condition, the blood vessels in the hands and feet become constricted, or narrowed, causing discoloration and pain. The best treatment for this symptom is simply to keep the hands and feet as warm as possible. Prescription medications are available to help with circulation issues as well.

Many patients suffering from linear scleroderma benefit from limiting their calcium intake. Inflammation can often be controlled, at least somewhat, by the use of corticosteroid medications. Unfortunately, there is no treatment option available that will provide consistent relief from the painful symptoms of this disease. In fact, many patients do not respond to any medications and simply have to be constantly monitored by medical professionals so that any complications can be recognized right away.

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