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Morphea (mor-FEE-ah) 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. Sometimes they appear on the face, arms, and legs.[1] In most cases, morphea improves spontaneously over time (typically 3 to 5 years); however, patients are often left with patches of darkened or discolored skin and, in rare cases, muscle damage.[1][2] The cause of this condition is unknown.[3] Morphea can be either localized (one or more isolated plaques of sclerotic skin), generalized (widespread plaques involving the trunk and limbs and sparing the hands and face, with no major vascular symptoms or visceral disease), guttate morphea (multiple, small, fair papules in the shoulders and chest with minimal sclerosis) and morphea profunda (a subcutaneous variant with inflammation).[1][4]Management is symptomatic and includes the use of corticoids.[5]
Last updated: 1/28/2010


  1. Scleroderma. National Institute of Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). 2006; Accessed 1/28/2010.
  2. What is Scleroderma?. Scleroderma Research Foundation. 2006; Accessed 1/28/2010.
  3. Morphea. 2008; Accessed 1/28/2010.
  4. Denton CP. Overview and classification of scleroderma disorders. UpToDate. January 9, 2015;
  5. Localized morphea. Orphanet. 2010;
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Basic Information

  • DermNet NZ is an online resource about skin diseases developed by the New Zealand Dermatological Society Incorporated. DermNet NZ provides information about this condition.
  • MedlinePlus was designed by the National Library of Medicine to help you research your health questions, and it provides more information about this topic.
  • The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) support research into the causes, treatment, and prevention of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases, the training of basic and clinical scientists to carry out this research, and the dissemination of information on research progress in these diseases. Click on the link to view information on this topic.
  • The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) is a federation of more than 130 nonprofit voluntary health organizations serving people with rare disorders. Click on the link to view information on this topic.

In Depth Information

  • Medscape Reference provides information on this topic. You may need to register to view the medical textbook, but registration is free.
  • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Morphea. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.

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