Localized scleroderma is characterized by thickening of the skin from excessive collagen deposits. Collagen is a protein normally present in our skin that provides structural support. However, when too much collagen is made, the skin becomes stiff and hard. Localized types of scleroderma are those limited to the skin and related tissues and, in some cases, the muscle below. Internal organs are not affected by localized scleroderma, and localized scleroderma can never progress to the systemic form of the disease. Often, localized conditions improve or go away on their own over time, but the skin changes and damage that occur when the disease is active can be permanent. For some people, localized scleroderma is serious and disabling.
There are two generally recognized types of localized scleroderma: morphea and linear.
Signs and symptoms of morphea, include:
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. Sometimes they appear on the face, arms, and legs.
Morphea usually affects only the uppermost layers of your skin, but in some cases may involve fatty or connective tissue below your skin.
Morphea can be either 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 characterized by a single line or band of thickened and/or abnormally colored skin). The disease is referred to as generalized morphea when the skin patches become very hard and dark and spread over larger areas of the body.
The Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO) provides the following list of features that have been reported in people with this condition. Much of the information in the HPO comes from Orphanet, a European rare disease database. If available, the list includes a rough estimate of how common a feature is (its frequency). Frequencies are based on a specific study and may not be representative of all studies. You can use the MedlinePlus Medical Dictionary for definitions of the terms below.
There is no cure for morphea. Treatment is aimed at controlling the signs and symptoms and slowing the spread of the disease. The precise treatment depends on the extent and severity of the condition.
Some people with mild morphea may choose to defer treatment. For people with morphea involving only the skin who want treatment, treatment may involve UVA1 phototherapy (or else broad band UVA, narrow band UVB, or PUVA), tacrolimus ointment, or steroid shots. Other treatment options include high potency steroid creams, vitamin D analog creams, or imiquimod. If a persons morphea is rapidly progressive, severe, or causing significant disability treatment options may include systemic steroids (glucocorticoids) and methotrexate. People with morphea should be monitored for joint changes and referred for physical and occupational therapy as appropriate.
Research helps us better understand diseases and can lead to advances in diagnosis and treatment. This section provides resources to help you learn about medical research and ways to get involved.
Nonprofit support and advocacy groups bring together patients, families, medical professionals, and researchers. These groups often raise awareness, provide support, and develop patient-centered information. Many are the driving force behind research for better treatments and possible cures. They can direct people to research, resources, and services. Many groups also have experts who serve as medical advisors. Visit their website or contact them to learn about the services they offer. Inclusion on this list is not an endorsement by GARD. Suggest an organization to add.
These resources provide more information about this condition or associated symptoms. The in-depth resources contain medical and scientific language that may be hard to understand. You may want to review these resources with a medical professional.
International Workshop on Scleroderma Research
Saturday, August 1, 2015 -
Wednesday, August 5, 2015
Location: Cambridge, United Kingdom
Description: The goals of this workshop are to provide for scientific interchange, promote collaboration and involve outstanding investigators in other fields. These scientific interactions with investigators traditionally outside of scleroderma (SSc) research are particularly important because SSc affects many different organ systems
Contact: James Witter, (301) 594-5032,firstname.lastname@example.org
Co-funding Institute(s): National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, Office of Rare Diseases Research
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I have been diagnosed with morphea. Can you please provide me with patient-friendly information about this disease? See answer