More Details on Different Kinds of Scleroderma
Morphea comes from a Greek word that means "form" or "structure." The word refers to local patches of scleroderma. The first signs of the disease are reddish patches of skin that thicken into firm, oval-shaped areas. The center of each patch becomes ivory-colored with violet borders.
These patches sweat very little and have little hair growth. Patches appear most often on the chest, stomach, and back. However, they may appear on the face, arms, and legs.
Morphea can be localized or generalized. Localized morphea limits itself to one or several patches, ranging in size from a half-inch to 12 inches in diameter. The condition sometimes appears on areas treated by radiation therapy. Some people have both morphea and linear scleroderma, which is referred to as generalized morphea. This occurs when the skin patches become very hard and dark, and spread over larger areas of the body.
Regardless of the type, morphea generally fades away in three to five years. However, people are often left with darkened skin patches and, in rare cases, muscle weakness.
As suggested by its name, the linear type of scleroderma has 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. People sometimes use the French term "en coup de sabre," or "sword stroke," to describe this highly visible line.
Systemic scleroderma (systemic sclerosis) is the term for scleroderma that affects the skin and the tissues beneath it that lead to the blood vessels and major organs. Systemic sclerosis is typically broken down into:
People with systemic sclerosis often have all or some of the symptoms that doctors call CREST, which stands for the following:
- Raynaud's phenomenon
- Esophageal dysfunction
(Click Scleroderma Symptoms for more information on CREST.)