General Information on Scleroderma
Your doctor will be able to make a diagnosis if you have typical symptoms and rapid skin thickening. However, a diagnosis may take months, or even years, if your disease only shows some symptoms and your doctor is able to rule out other potential causes. In some cases, a diagnosis is never made because the symptoms that prompted the visit to the doctor go away on their own.
(Click Scleroderma Diagnosis for more information.)
Currently, there are no treatments that control or stop the underlying problem -- the overproduction of collagen. Thus, treatment and management focus on relieving symptoms and limiting damage. Your treatment will depend on the particular problems you are having and will be prescribed or given by your physician. Other treatments include things you can do on your own.
(Click Scleroderma Treatment for more information.)
PrognosisAlthough no cure for scleroderma currently exists, timely intervention can improve the quality of life.
StatisticsAlthough scleroderma is more common in women, it also occurs in men and children, and it affects people of all races and ethnic groups.
However, it often follows patterns based on the specific type of disease. For example:
- Localized forms of scleroderma are more common in people of European descent than in African Americans.
- Morphea usually appears between the ages of 20 and 40.
- Linear scleroderma usually occurs in children or teenagers.
- Systemic scleroderma, whether limited or diffuse, typically occurs in people from 30 to 50 years old. It affects more women of African American than European descent.
Scleroderma can be hard to diagnose because it can occur in conjunction with or resemble other diseases.
(Click Scleroderma Look-A-Likes for more information about diseases with similar symptoms.)
Scientists can only estimate how many cases of the disease there actually are. In the United States, the number of people with systemic sclerosis ranges from 40,000 to 165,000. By contrast, a survey that included all scleroderma-related disorders (including Raynaud's phenomenon) suggested a number between 250,000 and 992,500.