Types of Scleroderma
There are two major types of Systemic Sclerosis:
1 Limited Scleroderma
This milder form of scleroderma is also known as CREST:
C Calcinosis cutis
Tiny calcium deposits develop under the skin, mainly on the elbows, knees and fingers. The deposits can be felt through the skin, and are sometimes tender or become infcted.
R Raynaud’s phenomenon (finger discoloration upon exposure to cold)
This condition occurs when small blood vessels in your fingers and toes spasm in response to cold or emotional stress, blocking the flow of blood. In most people, the skin turns white before becoming blue, cold and numb. When circulation improves, the skin usually reddens and might throb or tingle. Raynaud’s phenomena is often the first sign of limited scleroderma, but many people who have Raynaud’s never develop scleroderma
E Esophageal dysmotility (disorder affecting 2/3 of the lower esophagus)
The esophagus is the swallowing tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. In scleroderma, poor functioning of the muscles in the esophagus can make swallowing difficult and lead to acid reflux, heartburn, and scarring of the tissues.
S Sclerodactyly (thick, tight skin of the fingers; – pudgy fingers)
Skin changes typically affect only the lower arms and legs, including fingers and toes, and sometimes the face and neck. It may become difficult to bend your fingers or to open your mouth.
T Telangiectasia (tiny dilated blood vessels visible on the face and hands)
Telangiectasia is seen when small blood vessels swell near the skin surface and form small red spots. The spots are not painful.
2 Diffuse Scleroderma
Diffuse scleroderma is a more severe type of scleroderma. There is usually more skin thickening, and more skin is involved. It also often involves internal organs. The skin, digestive system, heart, lungs and kidneys are the most commonly affected organs. It can also affect blood vessels, muscles and joints. The tissues of involved organs become hard and fibrous, causing them to function less efficiently. There is also a lot of variability in which organs are affected from person to person.
Systemic sclerosis does not only affect the body and internal organs, but also greatly reduces the quality of life of patients, who often experience pain, fatigue and shortness of breath in their everyday activities.