What You Need to Know About Early Scleroderma Signs
Early Symptoms of Linear Scleroderma
As suggested by its name, the linear type of scleroderma has early symptoms that include a single line or band of thickened and/or abnormally colored skin. Usually, the line runs down an arm or leg, but in some people, it runs down the forehead.
Systemic scleroderma (systemic sclerosis) has early symptoms that include the skin and the tissues beneath skin that lead to the blood vessels and major organs.
Early Symptoms of Scleroderma: CREST
People with systemic sclerosis often have all or some of the symptoms that doctors call CREST. CREST stands for the following:
- Raynaud's phenomenon
- Esophageal dysfunction
Calcinosis is the formation of calcium deposits in the connective tissues, which can be detected by an x-ray. They are typically found on the fingers, hands, face, and trunk and on the skin above the elbows and knees. When the deposits break through the skin, painful ulcers can result.
Raynaud's phenomenon is a condition in which the small blood vessels of the hands and/or feet contract in response to cold or anxiety. As the vessels contract, the hands or feet turn white and cold, then blue. As blood flow returns, they become red. Fingertip tissues may suffer damage, leading to ulcers, scars, or gangrene.
Esophageal dysfunction is impaired function of the esophagus (the tube connecting the throat and the stomach) that occurs when the smooth muscles in the esophagus lose normal movement. In the upper esophagus, the result can be swallowing difficulties; in the lower esophagus, the problem can cause chronic heartburn or inflammation.