Diseases Home > Scleroderma Diagnosis

Various medical specialists can diagnose scleroderma. The diagnosis is largely determined by the results of a physical exam, including a look at your symptoms. The diagnosis may be fairly easy to make if you have typical symptoms and rapid skin thickening. However, a diagnosis can take months, or even years, to confirm if you only exhibit a few symptoms or they go away on their own.

Who Makes a Scleroderma Diagnosis?

Depending on your particular symptoms, a scleroderma diagnosis can be made by one of the following:
  • A general internist
  • A dermatologist (a doctor who specializes in treating diseases of the skin, hair, and nails)
  • An orthopedist (a doctor who treats bone and joint disorders)
  • A pulmonologist (a lung specialist)
  • A rheumatologist (a doctor specializing in the treatment of rheumatic diseases).

Diagnosing Scleroderma: History and Physical Exam

A scleroderma diagnosis is based largely on your medical history and findings from a physical exam. When considering the diagnosis, your healthcare provider will ask you a lot of questions about what has happened to you over time and about any symptoms that you may be experiencing, such as:
  • Are you having a problem with heartburn or swallowing?
  • Are you often tired or achy?
  • Do your hands turn white in response to anxiety or cold temperatures?
Once your healthcare provider has gathered a thorough medical history, he or she will perform a physical exam.
Finding one or more of the following factors can help the healthcare provider diagnose a certain form of scleroderma:
  • Changed skin appearance and texture, including swollen fingers and hands and tight skin around the hands, face, mouth, or elsewhere
  • Calcium deposits developing under the skin
  • Changes in the tiny blood vessels (capillaries) at the base of the fingernails
  • Thickened skin patches.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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