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What is scleroderma?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

For all those etymology buffs out there, a little Greek can help you figure out what scleroderma literally means: Sklerosis is the Greek word for hardness and derma is the Greek word for skin -- hard skin. It is classified as a rheumatic autoimmune disease. It occurs when collagen, the main protein component of connective tissue in the skin, blood vessels, joints, muscles, and ligaments (It’s what makes your skin strong and elastic; wrinkles develop when it degrades.) is overproduced. Localized scleroderma only affects the skin, but systemic scleroderma can be life threatening and damages internal organs like your heart, esophagus, lungs, and kidneys, every place you find collagen. Unfortunately ladies, it’s more common in women than men and typically develops in people between the ages of 30 and 50.

 

 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.