Types of Scleroderma

Localized Scleroderma

There are two kinds of localized scleroderma:

  • Morphea: This involves hard, oval-shaped patches on the skin. They start out red or purple and then turn whitish in the center. Sometimes, but not often, this type can affect blood vessels or internal organs. This is called generalized morphea.
  • Linear: This kind causes lines or streaks of thickened skin to form on the arms, legs, or face.

Systemic Scleroderma

There are two kinds of systemic scleroderma:

  • Limited Scleroderma: Typically mild, Limited Scleroderma only affects a small area of the body—usually just the fingers and face. It is more common among Caucasians than other populations. While every person with scleroderma is different and has a different pattern of symptoms, the CREST syndrome is a common set of symptoms.
    • C - Calcinosis, or calcium deposits under the skin and in tissues
    • R - Raynaud’s phenomenon
    • E - Esophageal Dysmotility, causing heartburn
    • S - Sclerodactyly, or thick skin on the fingers.
    • T - Telangiectasias, which are enlarged blood vessels (appear as red spots)
  • Diffuse SclerodermaOften more severe, Diffuse Scleroderma affects more areas of the skin. While symptoms vary, the most commonly affected areas include the skin of the arms, legs, and trunk. As a result, the tightened skin makes it difficult to bend fingers, hands, and other joints. There is sometimes also an inflammation of the joints, tendons and muscles that accompanies the skin thickening. In severe cases, the tight skin on the face can reduce the size of a person’s mouth. The skin can lose or gain pigment; making areas of light or dark skin.  Some people lose hair on the limbs, sweat less, and develop dry skin because of skin damage.

Learn more at Johns Hopkins Scleroderma Center.