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Arthritis Health Center

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Scleroderma Symptoms

What Are the Symptoms of Scleroderma?

When you have scleroderma, the thing you’re most likely to notice first is that the skin on your fingers, arms, legs, hands, feet, or face tightens, gets harder, or gets thicker. Help is available, though. Your doctor has treatments to manage scleroderma symptoms, which can also include:

  • Swelling, stiffness, or pain in the fingers, toes, hands, feet, or face
  • Puffy skin
  • Discolored skin
  • Fingers and toes that react strongly to cold -- they may look white and hurt. This is called Raynaud's phenomenon.
  • Red spots on the fingers, palms, face, lips, or tongue. These are called telangiectasias. They happen when tiny blood vessels are widened.
  • Ulcers or sores on fingertips, knuckles, or elbows
  • Fatigue or feeling tired

If you notice just a few -- or all -- of these symptoms together, call your doctor to get checked for scleroderma.

Recommended Related to Arthritis

Scleroderma -- The Basics Explained

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. The good news is that medications can help prevent these kinds of complications, and treatments...

Read the Scleroderma -- The Basics Explained article > >

The condition can also affect your other organs, muscles, and connective tissue, depending on which type of scleroderma you have. If that happens, you might notice:

  • Shortness of breath, caused by heart or lung damage
  • Problems digesting food -- for example, heartburn, trouble swallowing, or food moving slower than usual through your system

Other things can cause some of these symptoms. Your doctor can check them out for you.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on March 08, 2015

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