What Is Scleroderma?
Scleroderma is a chronic, often progressive autoimmune disease – like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and multiple sclerosis – in which the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. The disease, which literally means “hard skin,” can cause thickening and tightening of the skin as well as serious damage to internal organs including the lungs, heart, kidneys, esophagus and gastrointestinal tract. Scleroderma is not considered a hereditary disease and is not contagious.
Scleroderma affects approximately 1 in 2500 Canadian men, women and children of all ages. For most people with scleroderma, the disease has a serious impact on daily life: for some individuals, scleroderma is a life altering disease and for others, it can become a life-threatening one. There are medications to slow down disease progression and help with symptoms, but as of yet, there is no cure for scleroderma.