Scleroderma is a group of rare disorders which is characterized by hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissues. In some, the condition may afflict only the skin. In others, scleroderma can impair the blood vessels, internal viscera and GI tract. Scleroderma afflicts women more often than men and is known to develop between the ages of 30 to 50.
Signs And Symptoms Of Scleroderma
Scleroderma is typified by:
- Skin: Hard, thickened and tight patches appear on the skin. The patches may be shaped like ovals or lines. The skin appears shiny because it’s so tight, and movement of the area gets restricted too.
- Fingers and toes: There will be an overstated reaction to cold temperatures or emotional distress; this may be seen as pain, numbness, or color change in the fingers or toes. This is known as Raynaud’s phenomenon.
- GI tract: Scleroderma causes acid reflux and problems with absorption of nutrients.
- Heart, lungs or kidneys: Infrequently, scleroderma afflicts the functioning of the heart, lungs or kidneys and this could get life threatening.
What Causes Scleroderma Disease?
Scleroderma occurs when there is an overproduction and buildup of collagen in your body tissues.
Alternative Therapies For Scleroderma
In a lot of cases, the skin problems tend to fade away on their own in about 5 years. However, scleroderma affecting your internal organs is known to worsen with time.
- There is no drug which can stop the overproduction of collagen. On the other hand, a host of drugs help control the symptoms and ward off against complications.
- Blood pressure medications are usually prescribed to dilate the blood vessels and help prevent lung and kidney impairment and help treat Raynaud’s disease.
- Drugs which suppress the immune system are given to decrease the scleroderma symptoms.
- Your doctor will give you antacids to deal with the acid reflux. Also, a host of home remedies are decidedly beneficial to manage the GI derangement – mint, ginger and cumin. Avoid heavy meals, do not eat very late at night and elevate your head to prevent an acid reflux from the stomach in to the esophagus.
- Analgesics help deal with pain and discomfort.
- Antibiotic creams help prevent infection of the fingers and toes ulcers caused by Raynaud’s phenomenon.
- Physical therapy is recommended; so schedule yourself for frequent sessions; it helps effectively manage the discomfort and pain, enhances mobility and strength and maintains independence with your day-to-day tasks.
- In extreme cases with complications, surgical intervention becomes necessary. In case of gangrene, amputation is essential. High blood pressure in the arteries to lungs needs to be dealt with a lung transplant.
- Exercise regularly, it keeps your body supple, peps up circulation and allays stiffness.
- Do not smoke. Nicotine makes the blood vessels contract, and aggravates the Raynaud’s phenomenon.
- Protect yourself from the cold. Wear warm socks and gloves when exposed to cold — even when you open your freezer. When outside in the cold, you must always cover your head and face and wear warm clothing.