Roughly 300,000 people in the United States suffer from scleroderma. This chronic connective tissue disease results from an over-production of collagen in the skin and in the worst form, systemic slcerosis, other organs as well. Scleroderma often appears in people between the ages of 25 and 55 and women are affected more often than men. The disease often progressively worsens over time.

There are two main categories of scleroderma: localized scleroderma, which involves only the skin, and systemic sclerosis, which involves the skin and other organs, such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, intestine and gallbladder.

Typical symptoms of the skin include skin hardening or a woody texture, skin that is abnormally dark or light, skin tightness, shiny patches of skin, small white lumps beneath the skin’s surface, tight facial skin, ulcerations on the fingers or toes and change in color of the fingers and toes from exposure to heat or cold. Bones, muscles, lungs and the digestive tract may be affected as well.

There is no known cause of scleroderma, nor is there a cure. There are individualized treatments that are designed to help alleviate certain symptoms and decrease the activity of the immune system to further slow down the disease.