by EBSCO Medical Review Board

Scleroderma is a disease of the body's connective tissue. This tissue gives support and form to organs and structures in the body. The most body parts it affects are the skin and organs, such as the digestive system, heart, lungs, and kidneys. It happens when the immune system triggers cells to make too much collagen. It is then deposited in the skin and organs and causes hardening and thickening.

The cause is not known. Genes and the environment may play a role.

Layers of the Skin
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There are two main types:

  • Localized scleroderma affects the skin and the structures under it, such as tissue, muscle, and bone.
  • Systemic scleroderma, also called systemic sclerosis, is a more serious form that affects many systems in the body, such as the blood vessels, heart, lungs, and kidneys
What are the risk factors for scleroderma?What are the symptoms of scleroderma?How is scleroderma diagnosed?What are the treatments for scleroderma?Are there screening tests for scleroderma?How can I reduce my risk of scleroderma?What questions should I ask my doctor?Where can I get more information about scleroderma?


Kowal-Bielecka O, Fransen J, et al. Update of EULAR recommendations for the treatment of systemic sclerosis. Ann Rheum Dis. 2017 Aug;76(8):1327-1339.

Localized scleroderma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: . Accessed August 12, 2020.

Scleroderma. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: Accessed August 12, 2020.

Systemic sclerosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: . Accessed August 12, 2020.

What is scleroderma? Scleroderma Foundation website. Available at: Accessed August 12, 2020.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board James P. Cornell, MD
  • Review Date: 03/2020
  • Update Date: 03/05/2021