Also known as: juvenile scleroderma, localized scleroderma.

What is scleroderma?

Scleroderma (hard skin) is a rare autoimmune disease where normal skin (usually, though other organ systems may be involved) is replaced by dense thick scar like tissue.

There are two types:

  • Localized scleroderma, common in children, particularly girls, which may present as bands of thick white tissue or morphea-patches (with purple borders) in the skin plus damage to muscle, bones and joints.
  • Systemic scleroderma (sclerosis) which is rare in children, more severe and involves internal organs as well as the skin.

What causes scleroderma?

Scleroderma is an autoimmune disorder. This means that the body’s own immune system (which normally defends us against infections) mistakenly attacks and damages the body’s own tissues.

It’s believed that a combination of genetic and environmental factors can lead to this disease.

What are the symptoms of scleroderma?

Common skin changes include loss of the skin's ability to stretch, swelling of hands and feet, the tightening of the skin with hardening lines or streaks, tight oval-shaped patches of skin anywhere on the body known as morphea, fatigue and muscle weakness.

What are scleroderma care options?

Many children with localized skin scleroderma can manage it topical ointments or creams. In more severe instances, medications that suppress the body’s immune response may be required.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: August 16, 2021 10:47 AM

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