Scleroderma is a medical condition that affects the skin and the connective tissues of a human body. It is characterized by hardening or thickening of the skin causing scarring, blood vessel problems and several stages of inflammation. It is another form of autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks the body’s own tissues and organs. What is going on are the cells made too much collagen as if trying to repair an injury. When there is too much collagen, fibrosis or scarring occurs and all the other internal organs will be affected.
Scleroderma is classified into several categories:
– Localized scleroderma. Only present on the skin. It can be morphea scleroderma or thickening of the skin in the involved skin area only while linear scleroderma is localized in the lower extremity of the body. It is also common in children and can be seen as a strip of hardening skin down the leg of a child. It can cause stunt bone growth in growing children.
– Systemic scleroderma. This involves the skin and the internal organs. It is categorized in two forms, the diffuse systemic sclerosis and the limited form. The diffuse form involves the thickening of skin symmetrically in the extremities, face and the trunk. It can rapidly progress to hardening after the first inflammatory phase. Organs affected, such as the esophagus, lungs, heart, and kidneys can be life-threatening.
The limited form is limited to the skin of the fingers, hands, and face. It progresses slowly unlike the diffuse form. This form is also called “CREST”. It is composed of the first initials of the common signs and symptoms of scleroderma.
C-Calcinosis is a condition where there are tiny deposits of calcium in the skin.
R-Raynaud’s phenomenon is the spasm of the tiny arteries that supply blood to the nose, tongue, ears, fingers, and toes.
E-stands for esophagus, where its affected with scleroderma. It occurs when there is a poor function of the muscles in the lower two-thirds of the esophagus which results in poor swallowing of food from the mouth to the stomach.
S-Sclerodactyly is the thickening and tightness of the skin of the fingers or toes. This condition can give the fingers and toes a shiny and puffy appearance. It limits the movement and motion of the fingers and toes.
T-Telangiectasias are the tiny red areas found in the face, hands and in the mouth behind the lips.
If you think you are suffering from Scleroderma you should seek medical assistance. You may also be entitled to Social Security Disability Benefits. The SSA considered Scleroderma as a medical condition that would make you eligible for SSDI and SSI. Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a “Listing of Medical Impairments” (known as the blue book) that automatically qualify you for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).