Let’s explore one of the rare disorder which is autoimmune in nature and can create havoc in your body system. We often come with many diseases but this is the rare one.
If you want to know about scleroderma you are on the right page.
What is scleroderma?
It is a rare autoimmune condition that affects the skin, connective tissue, and different body organs. This condition causes the skin to become thick and hard at places.
What causes scleroderma-Understand the nature of autoimmune disorder!!!
The cause is not known clearly. It is believed to be an autoimmune condition, which means the immune system of the body mistakenly identifies the body’s own cells as harmful and attacks them causing inflammation and increased production and deposition of collagen tissue in these places. This extra collagen causes the skin over the affected area to thicken affecting the normal functioning of that body part. Besides the skin, scleroderma also affects the blood vessels, heart, lungs, kidneys, intestines, etc.
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Who gets scleroderma-
1-Any one could get scleroderma. It is seen in children as well as adults.
2-Females are more affected than males. The ratio is 4:1 for females to males affected.
3-It starts anywhere between the age of 25-55 years
4-There could be a family history of a rheumatoid disease or autoimmune condition.
5-History of exposure to certain chemicals.
6-The features of scleroderma differ in children and adults.
This is a lifelong condition with periods of remission and relapses. The expression and pace of progress of disease varies from patient to patient.
Understand the Types of scleroderma
- Localized scleroderma– This type of scleroderma is limited to the skin only. It does not affect the internal organs.
- Morphea: It is mostly seen in children, but adults can get it too. It is a mild form of scleroderma and is characterized by round or oval smooth, discolored, hidebound patches of skin. It commonly affects the chest, stomach, and back but can appear on hands, legs, face, and scalp too.
- Linear scleroderma: The lesions are in the form of streaks or lines on the skin also involving the underlying tissues especially the limbs or can happen on the face too.
- Systemic scleroderma- It involves the skin as well as the organs of the body like blood vessels, heart, lungs, digestive system including the food pipe and intestines, and affects their normal functioning.
- Diffuse scleroderma- This progresses more rapidly and involves the whole body.
- Limited scleroderma
This type of scleroderma progresses slowly and is limited only to the fingers, hands, and face. Later on, the food pipe may get affected.
Symptoms of scleroderma-FOLLOW “CREST”
The symptoms of scleroderma vary with the type of scleroderma the person has
People with limited scleroderma get symptoms of CREST syndrome which consists of –
C-Calcinosis- An abnormal deposition of calcium salts in the skin tissue. The skin in those places could break open releasing white chalky material.
R-Raynauds phenomenon-a sequence of events which is seen in fingers and toes where because of exposure to cold there is a spasm of blood vessels, reducing blood supply to the fingers and toes causing them to become white, blue. The fingers and toes finally become red as the spasm improves and blood rushes in the limbs.
E-Esophageal dysfunction– thickening of the oesophagus may cause a disturbance in its function leading to motility problems, difficulty in swallowing, heartburn, etc.
S-Sclerodactyly- localized thickening and tightness of the skin of the fingers and the toes
T-Telangiectasia-Tiny blood vessels form thread-like patterns on skin eg- spider veins.
What are the more symptoms !!!
- Hair loss
- Joint pain, stiffness, and contractures
- Body aches and muscle pain
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Shortness of breath
- Dry cough
- There is a loss of fat around the lips with difficulty in opening the mouth. The nose appears pinched/beaked
- Salt and pepper discoloration of the skin.
- The patient could also be anxious, frustrated, or depressed because of his condition.
Can it lead to Complications of systemic sclerosis-
Lung complications -Damage to the lung tissues causing difficulty in breathing, shortness of breath after any physical activity, dry cough and pulmonary hypertension.
Heart-Palpitation, irregular heartbeats, thickening of muscles of the heart.
Kidneys- High blood pressure, increased excretion of proteins in urine and acute kidney failure
Sexual functions– Erectile dysfunction in males and dryness of vagina in females.
Eyes– Dry eyes
Mouth – Dry mouth. The inability to open the mouth properly may cause issues with oral hygiene and lead to dental cavities.
Diagnosis – The doctor diagnoses it through a detailed clinical history, examination of the patient.
Besides this, he will suggest you certain blood tests, and tests to know the functioning of the heart, lungs, kidneys, and the digestive system.
Treatment- A conventional treatment is a must for symptomatic relief. Homeopathy treatment could act as supportive and help in correcting the autoimmune response, thus slowing down the pace of the progress of the disease. It could also help for improving the sense of general well being, reducing the frustration and anxiety associated with this condition.
The homeopathic medicines for this condition are selected after a careful and detailed analysis of the patient’s case . This includes the study of his physical symptoms, the factors that affect those symptoms, his past history of illness, treatment history, family history, his mental and emotional makeup. All the symptoms that are peculiar to the patient are selected and a homeopathic medicine which is minimum to the patient is prescribed.
Self-care with scleroderma and the right care for you!!!
- Be gentle on your skin. Avoid harsh soaps or scrubs on the skin, especially on the areas where you have developed calcinosis or the calcium deposition.
- Moisturize the skin as scleroderma would cause the skin to become dry
- Wear protective clothing as the thickened skin is prone to ulceration very easily.
- Keep yourself warm to avoid the Raynaud’s phenomenon.
- Do yoga or physiotherapy exercises to avoid contractures of your skin. Be gentle on yourself while you do these exercises. Do not stretch yourself if there are contractures already formed.
- Avoid eating sticky and chewy food which can stick to your teeth and later cause carries.
- Eat fresh fruits and green vegetables as well as the bright-colored fruits and vegetables as they are rich in antioxidants.
- Add herbs to your diet like turmeric, ginger, oregano, basil, etc
- Include fish rich in omega 3 fatty acids such as Salmon, Mackerel, etc
- Have white meat instead of red meat.
- Avoid overeating, eating spicy food, rich food, processed food, sauces, coffee, smoking, carbonated drinks as it can cause heartburn.
- Keep yourself adequately hydrated.
- Take a brisk walk for at least 30 min 5 times a week.
- Practice meditation and breathing exercises for stress relief.