Scleroderma (pronounced SKLEER-oh-der-ma) is a disease that affects your skin. When you have scleroderma, your skin gradually tightens and thickens or hardens. It can’t stretch like it used to.
Scleroderma can also change tiny blood vessels. That damages internal organs. Although it usually affects the hands, face, and feet, it can also target the digestive tract, heart and blood flow, lungs, and kidneys.
If you think you have scleroderma, tell your doctor what symptoms you've noticed.
In order to make a diagnosis, he'll ask you about your family's health history, look for changes in how thick your skin is, and do some tests.
He may look at your finger under a microscope to check for changes in tiny blood vessels. These start to vanish early on in scleroderma. He’ll likely take a blood sample and send it to the lab to see if your immune system is in overdrive.
Your doctor may also take a small...