7 Common Misconceptions About Scleroderma

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by Wendy Henderson |

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Despite there being approximately 300,000 people in the U.S. who have scleroderma, it seems that many people are either completely unaware of the disease or are confused as to what the disease actually is. With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of common misconceptions about scleroderma so non-patients can better understand the condition, based on information from Health Central.

1. Scleroderma is contagious.
No, it’s really not. You can go ahead and touch someone with scleroderma — you won’t catch it. Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease where there is an overproduction of collagen, which is what causes the tightening of the skin. It’s not caused by an infection or bacteria of any sort.

MORE: Read our tips for new caregivers for scleroderma patients

2. Only the skin is affected by scleroderma.
It depends on the type of scleroderma. Localized scleroderma typically only affects the skin but systemic scleroderma can affect any organ in the body. Because the skin is the body’s largest organ, it stands to reason that this is the one most affected by the disease. However, scleroderma patients may also suffer from problems with their lungs, kidneys, heart, stomach, muscles, tissue and blood vessels.

3. Scleroderma is an adult disease.
While it’s more common for women in their childbearing years to be diagnosed with scleroderma, children can also get the disease. Localized scleroderma is more common among children, whereas adults tend to be diagnosed with systemic scleroderma — usually between the ages of 25 and 55.

4. Diagnosing scleroderma is straightforward.
Because no two scleroderma patients experience the exact same symptoms, scleroderma is extremely difficult to diagnose. In addition, many of the symptoms mimic those of other autoimmune diseases. However, there are some characteristics of the disease that are unique to scleroderma and therefore, if presented in a patient, make diagnosis much easier.

MORE: Find out about skin care and wound management for scleroderma

5. Scleroderma is a genetic disease.
While there is research being conducted into whether there are certain genes that may be to blame for the development of scleroderma, it is not considered a genetic disease that’s passed down.

6. Scleroderma is curable.
Sadly this is not true. As yet, there is no cure for scleroderma, only treatments and medications to help manage the symptoms of the disease. Some people who have mild scleroderma may find that they no longer have flares and their condition is considered in remission.

7. If you have Raynaud’s phenomenon you must have scleroderma as well.
It’s true that up to 90 percent of scleroderma patients will suffer from Raynaud’s phenomenon, which is a condition where the small blood vessels of the mouth, hands, feet and ears narrow and can make the skin turn blue when exposed to extreme temperatures. However, Raynaud’s phenomenon is a fairly common condition and only 3/4 of people who have Raynaud’s also have an autoimmune disease such as scleroderma.

MORE: Discover seven tips to help manage Raynaud’s phenomenon during the seasonal changes

Scleroderma News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.