Scleroderma is a widespread, chronic autoimmune condition, which is characterized by fibrosis of tissue. In addition to the fibrosis of tissues, involvement of blood vessels is a predominant feature os scleroderma. Scleroderma has many forms, but the two major ones are Limited Systemic Sclerosis and Diffuse Systemic Sclerosis based on the extent of skin involement.
The hallmark of scleroderma is thickened fibrosed tissue, mainly affecting the skin of the fingers, hands, forearms, feet, and face. It can extend to the upper arms, thighs, chest, and abdomen. The changes of Scleroderma generally begin at the arteriole (small blood vessels) and it can affect all organ systems in the body. The deposition of collagenous material (same material found in scars) into the tissues causes them to be dysfuncitonal. This excess collagen build up leads to thickening of skin and tendons, and can also cause arthritis, esophageal dysfunction, bowel dysfunction and severe lung probles such as pulmonary fibrosis and pulmonary hypertenstion.