What is scleroderma?

Scleroderma is a rare autoimmune disease that causes the skin and soft tissues of the body to harden and thicken. There are several types of scleroderma. Although it most often affects the skin, it can also affect many other parts of the body including the esophagus, lungs, kidneys, heart, blood vessels, muscles, and joints. Scleroderma in its most severe forms can be life-threatening. It is a chronic and progressive disease and there is no known cure. 

There are approximately 5,000-7,000 children and 300,000-500,000 adults in the United States affected by scleroderma. It usually develops between the ages of 35 and 50, and is four times more common in women than it is in men.

The exact cause of this disease is unknown. Although rarely it can run in families, most cases do not show any family history of the disease. Scleroderma is not a contagious disease.

For more information on scleroderma, please visit the following sites:

Scleroderma Foundation

Johns Hopkins Scleroderma Center

Web MD

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