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Scleroderma is an ongoing (chronic) disease that causes abnormal growth of connective tissue. It can affect the joints, skin, and internal organs. It is degenerative and gets worse over time. The disease can be in one area of the body. This is known as localized scleroderma. Or it may affect the whole body. This is known as systemic sclerosis. Systemic sclerosis occurs only rarely in children. Localized scleroderma is seen more often in children. It may involve patches of the skin on the trunk, arms, legs, or head.
Scleroderma is thought to be an autoimmune disease. This means the symptoms are caused by the body attacking its own healthy tissues. Genes play a role in the disease, but it is not passed on from parents to children. Some environmental factors may also play a role.
Scleroderma can lead to scarring of the skin, joints, and internal organs. Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each child, and may include:
Symptoms of localized sclerosis may include:
The symptoms of scleroderma can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her health care provider for a diagnosis.
The process starts with a medical history and a physical exam. Diagnosis is based on the changes in the skin and internal organs. An antibody test may help show the type of scleroderma. Tests may also be done, such as:
Treatment will depend on your child's symptoms, age, and general health. Treatment may include:
Talk with your healthcare providers about the risks, benefits, and possible side effects of all medicines.
Complications of scleroderma vary depending on the type of the disease and how severe it is. Treatment may prevent or reduce complications. Possible complications may include:
Work with your child's health care provider. Together you can make a treatment plan. The plan can help your child be active as much as possible in school, and in social and physical activities. Make life as normal as possible for your child. Encourage exercise and physical therapy and find ways to make it fun. You can also help your child find a support group to be around with other children with scleroderma. Work with your child's school to make sure your child has help as needed. Your child may also qualify for special help under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
If your child's symptoms get worse or he or she has new symptoms, let the healthcare provider know.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:
Bayhealth is Southern Delaware’s healthcare leader with hospitals in Dover and in Milford. Bayhealth provides a wide range of medical services, including cardiovascular, cancer, orthopaedics and rehabilitation, pediatrics, respiratory care, sleep care, surgical weight loss and women’s services.