What Causes Systemic Sclerosis? Its Symptoms And Treatment Options

Systemic sclerosis is associated with some areas of the skin becoming harder than regular and involvement of internal organs of the body. Depending upon the extent of involvement of the skin there are two types of systemic sclerosis i.e. limited cutaneous systemic sclerosis and diffused cutaneous systemic sclerosis.

Unfortunately there is no known cure for this condition; however newer treatment modules have been helpful in improving the condition of the patient.

The symptoms of systemic sclerosis vary from person to person depending upon the spread and severity of the condition.

Systemic Sclerosis Causes

Systemic sclerosis is considered to be an autoimmune disorder. As a result, the body’s own immune system causes damage to its own cells, instead of fighting external organisms like viruses and bacteria. In this condition, the immune system starts attacking the connective tissue cells within the body.

Unfortunately, there is little information about what factors trigger the immune system to behave in this way. Some of the factors that are considered to trigger the autoimmune response include,

  • Inherited tendency.
  • Cytomegalovirus infection.
  • Exposure to chemicals like vinyl chloride, silica or benzene derivative.

Estimates have suggested that the condition affects about two in 100,000 people, with women having a fourfold higher tendency to develop the condition compared to their male counterparts. The condition affects people within the age group of 25 to 55 years and is very rare among children.

Symptoms Of Systemic Sclerosis

Raynaud’s phenomenon is considered to be one of the earliest symptoms of systemic sclerosis, though not all cases of Raynaud’s disease indicate systemic sclerosis. Raynaud’s disease is characterized by temporary changes in the skin when exposed to cold temperatures or stress. The skin turns pale, blue and then becomes red and becomes normal when trigger subsides. Depending upon the type of the systemic sclerosis, the symptomatic presentation may vary.

  • Limited cutaneous systemic sclerosis is characterized by patches of thickened skin on the face, forearms and feet. The fingers become swollen and tight, while ulcers may develop on the finger tips. Frequent episodes of heartburn and difficulty in swallowing hard and lumpy food.
  • In diffused cutaneous systemic sclerosis, in addition to skin changes other symptoms like tiredness, weight loss, muscle pain, acid reflux and involvement of multiple organs are observed. Other symptoms include elevated blood pressure, fibrosis in the lungs with pulmonary hypertension, under-active thyroid gland, blurring of vision, breathlessness and seizures.

Systemic Sclerosis Treatment

One should remember that systemic sclerosis can’t be cured and hence the treatment regimen focuses on reliving the symptoms, halting the progression of the disease, detecting and treating complications and limiting disability. Here are some natural treatment options for the management of the condition,

  • Local application of moisturizing creams or Aloe Vera gel on the skin along with regular stretching exercises can help prevent and limit cutaneous symptoms
  • Restricting diet, drinking lots of fluids, regularizing meal schedules, etc will help in effective management of heart burns.
  • One could try a host of natural remedies and home based treatments for management of hypertension, hypothyroidism, etc and treat infections promptly.

While home remedies and natural treatment is very beneficial, it is often recommended to consult your doctor if the symptoms continue to deteriorate.

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