Types of Scleroderma
The hallmarks of localized scleroderma are inflammation and thickening of the skin because of excessive levels of a structural protein called collagen. Localized scleroderma is relatively mild and commonly affects only a few areas of the body — usually the skin or muscles. Internal organs are typically not affected.
Juvenile scleroderma is a rare type of scleroderma that occurs in children. It is generally localized and only affects the skin. In more severe cases, it can also affect the connective tissue, muscles, and bones, but unlike the more severe systemic scleroderma, it does not affect other organs such as the heart and the lungs.
Linear scleroderma is a type of localized scleroderma that is most commonly diagnosed in children. Instead of patches of thickened skin commonly seen in the morphea-type of localized scleroderma, patients with the linear type have thick streaks of skin usually affecting the limbs and torso.
Morphea is a term used to describe the skin symptoms of localized scleroderma, although the terms sometimes are used interchangeably. While it can occur in all age groups, it is more common among adults. Women develop morphea more frequently than men.
Systemic scleroderma, also called systemic sclerosis, is a multi-system autoimmune disease characterized by the accumulation of scar tissue in the skin and several internal organs such as the heart, kidney, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract.
Limited scleroderma, also known as limited cutaneous systemic scleroderma, is a subtype of systemic scleroderma. It is marked by skin thickening accompanied by the accumulation of scar tissue in internal organs such as the heart, lungs, and intestinal tract. It is generally milder than diffuse scleroderma.
Diffuse scleroderma is a subtype of systemic scleroderma. Patients with this type are more likely to have extensive skin fibrosis on the arms, legs, and trunk, with a higher risk of developing internal organ damage than those with limited scleroderma. Patients may also experience symptoms that worsen quickly and are more severe.
Sine sclerosis is a rare autoimmune condition that affects only about 5% of people with systemic scleroderma. Patients with this type do not have the hard, thick skin that is characteristic of systemic scleroderma, but still experience an abnormal accumulation of scar tissue in their internal organs.