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Diseases

Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

Scleroderma

*

* Not a rare disease
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Your Question

How might scleroderma be treated?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What is scleroderma?

Scleroderma is an autoimmune disorder that involves changes in the skin, blood vessels, muscles, and internal organs.[1] There are two main types: localized scleroderma which affects only the skin; and systemic scleroderma which affects the blood vessels and internal organs, as well as the skin.[2] These two main types also have different sub-types.

Localized scleroderma can be divided in:[3]
Systemic scleroderma is subdivided in:[3][4]
There are also cases of environmentally-induced scleroderma and cases where scleroderma is part of other rheumatic disorders, like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or Sjogren syndrome. Although the underlying cause of scleroderma is unknown, it is believed to relate to buildup of collagen in the skin and other organs, as a result of a faulty immune system response.[1][5] There is no cure, but various treatments can relieve symptoms.[2]
Last updated: 11/2/2015

How might scleroderma be treated?

Currently, there is not a cure for scleroderma, however treatments are available to relieve symptoms and limit damage. Treatment will vary depending on your symptoms.[2]

The following medications may be used to treat scleroderma:[1]

Other treatments for specific symptoms may include:[1][6][7]

  • Drugs for heartburn or swallowing problems (proton pump inhibitors)
  • Prokinetic agents to speeding the movement of food through the stomach and intestines
  • Antibiotics to address malabsorption syndrome
  • Blood pressure medications (particularly ACE inhibitors) for high blood pressure or kidney problems
  • Antihistamines and skin moisturizers to relieve itching
  • Medicines to prevent (e.g., Bosentan) or treat (e.g., iloprost) ulcers
  • Medicines to improve breathing (See: Pulmonary hypertension)
  • Medicines to treat lung scarring (e.g., cyclophosphamide)
  • Medications to treat Raynaud's phenomenon (e.g., nifedipine, iloprost)

 More detailed information regarding the treatment of scleroderma can be accessed through MedScape.

Last updated: 10/28/2014

References
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.