Do you have patches on the skin that are hard and feel tight? If your answer is yes, you could be suffering from a rare disease known as skin sclerosis. In this condition, the skin and connective tissues become hard and tight. Usually, skin sclerosis affects only the skin, but in several people, it can also affect blood vessels, various internal organs and even the digestive system. The symptoms of this disease depend on which part of your body is affected by it.
It has been observed that women are more prone to skin sclerosis compared to men and it is especially common among people aged between 30 and 50.
Causes Of Skin Sclerosis:
It is still not known how skin sclerosis develops. However, according to various researches this disease occurs due to the overproduction of collagen, which gets accumulated in the body tissues. Collagen is a fibrous protein that forms connective tissues and skin.
What is sclerosis of the skin? Many health care professionals believe that skin sclerosis is an autoimmune disorder, where the body’s immune system begins attacking the body for no reason and this causes inflammation as well as overproduction of collagen.
Symptoms Of Skin Sclerosis:
As mentioned earlier, the symptoms depend on which part of your body has been affected by skin sclerosis. Some of the symptoms to watch out for are:
Practically, anyone afflicted with skin sclerosis will notice hardening and tightening of the skin. This occurs in patches, which can be oval-shaped or in straight lines. Depending on the type of skin sclerosis the person has, the size, location and number of patches vary. Usually, you will notice your skin appearing shiny due to the tightening, and the movement of the areas affected will be restricted.
Fingers And/Or Toes:
When you get skin sclerosis, you will notice your fingers and toes reacting to cold temperatures. You could experience pain, change in the color and even numbness. This condition is known as Raynaud’s phenomenon.
Heart, Lungs And/Or Kidneys:
Although rare, it is not unheard of skin sclerosis affecting the functioning of the lungs, heart and the kidneys. If this happens, it is life-threatening.
If your digestive system is afflicted by this condition, you will suffer from acid reflux, which could irreversibly damage your oesophagus. There could also be a problem of absorbing nutrients from the food you consume. This is because the food is unable to move properly thorough your intestines.
Treatment For Skin Sclerosis:
There is no cure for this disease, but there are treatment options that can alleviate the symptoms and improve the quality of life. Sometimes, the disease disappears without any treatment after 3to 5 years, but if the disease has affected internal organs, it progresses with time. Some of the skin sclerosis treatment options are as follows:
There is no medication to prevent overproduction of collagen. However, there are medications available to prevent complications and symptoms of the disease. Your doctor may prescribe medication to reduce the symptoms of skin sclerosis. To prevent infection in the fingers and toes, you may have to apply antibiotic ointment. Also, you can use prescribed painkillers to manage pain.
People suffering from skin sclerosis are often advised go through physiotherapy to manage pain, improve mobility and retain their ability to perform daily tasks independently.
If skin sclerosis causes complications in your toes and fingers, the only solution could be amputation. Usually, when ulcers develop and you suffer from severe Raynaud’s phenomenon, it could result in gangrene.
In addition, you should make an effort to stay as active as possible. This will not only keep your body flexible, it will also improve blood circulation and alleviate stiffness. If you are a smoker, quit smoking immediately, as nicotine present in cigarettes can constrict blood vessels, worsening the Raynaud’s phenomenon.
Now that you know everything there is to know about skin sclerosis, consult your healthcare provider and find out whether those tight and hard patches you have on your skin are in fact skin sclerosis or something else.
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