An overproduction of collagen protein which leads to the hardening and inflammation of connective tissues and skin. Scleroderma can be localized, meaning it only affects the skin, or it can be systemic, meaning it affects other parts of the body as well (such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, and digestive tract).

Common Symptoms

Patches of skin that are hard and thick, rigid joints and joint pain, fatigue, heartburn, calcium deposits under the skin, weight loss, hair loss, red spots on the body, decreased blood flow to fingers, persistent cough, painful mucosal membranes (such as in the vaginal area), and gastrointestinal problems.

Coexisting Diseases and Conditions

Lupus, Sjögren’s syndrome, autoimmune thyroiditis, hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, type 1 diabetes, and fibromyalgia.

Risk Factors and Prevalence

As scleroderma is four times more likely to develop in females, researchers believe that sex may play a role in the development of this disease. Localized scleroderma has also been shown to be more common in people of European descent, while systemic scleroderma was shown to be more common in African Americans or Choctaw Native Americans. An environmental risk factor – exposure to silica – has also been associated with scleroderma.


  1. Article Sources
    1. Abbot, S., Bossingham, D., Proudman, S., de Costa, C., & Ho-Huynh, A. (2018). Risk factors for the development of systemic sclerosis: A systematic review of the literature. Rheumatology Advances in Practice, 2(2), rky041.

    2. Fallahi, P., Ruffilli, I., Giuggioli, D., Colaci, M., Ferrari, S. M., Antonelli, A., & Ferri, C. (2017). Associations between Systemic Sclerosis and Thyroid Diseases. Frontiers in Endocrinology, 8, 266.

    3. Lescoat, A., Cavalin, C., Ballerie, A., Lecureur, V., Sesé, L., Cazalets, C., Lederlin, M., Coiffier, G., Belhomme, N., Paris, C., Garlantézec, R., Jouneau, S., & Jégo, P. (2020). Silica Exposure and Scleroderma: More Bridges and Collaboration between Disciplines Are Needed. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 201(7), 880–882.

    4. Pagkopoulou, E., Arvanitaki, A., Daoussis, D., Garyfallos, A., Kitas, G., & Dimitroulas, T. (2019). Comorbidity burden in systemic sclerosis: Beyond disease-specific complications. Rheumatology International, 39(9), 1507–1517.

    5. Scleroderma Risk Factors. (n.d.). Retrieved July 9, 2021, from

    6. What is scleroderma? – Scleroderma Foundation. (n.d.). Https://Www.Scleroderma.Org/Site/SPageServer/?Pagename=patients_whatis#.YOiIJpNKiqB. Retrieved July 9, 2021, from