The History of Scleroderma

Patrícia Silva, PhD avatar

by Patrícia Silva, PhD |

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Scleroderma is a condition that causes hardening of the skin and, in some cases, some organs in the body. Although the medical term we use to describe the condition was only coined in the early 19th century, scleroderma is a condition with a long history. According to, there are records of its symptoms dating back as early as 400 BC.

MORE: Learn more about common scleroderma symptoms.

The term scleroderma comes from the greek word, “sclero” which means hard, or hardening and “derma” meaning skin. According to, Hippocrates was the first to describe the illness as “thickened skin.”

The first detailed description of the disease was by an Italian doctor named Carlo Curzio in the mid 1700s. He described his patient’s symptoms as hard, wood-like skin. That particular patient was admitted into hospital under Curzio’s care, where her symptoms included tightness of skin in many areas, as well as tightness around the mouth and hardness on the neck.

The term “scleroderma” was eventually used by Giovambattista Fantonetti in 1836. He described one of his patients as having dark, leathered skin that caused problems with joint mobility due to tightening of the skin.

Modern-day scleroderma
Nowadays, scleroderma is a relatively rare disease. While its prevalence varies throughout the world, we do know women are more likely to be affected than men. Over the past 50 years, statistics indicate that the number of people affected by scleroderma is rising, however it is not clear if this is due to a rise in the disease or more awareness regarding the condition.

MORE: Scleroderma awareness: 5 interesting facts

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 other 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.