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Signs & Symptoms Rheumatology

Signs and Symptoms

Scleroderma can affect everyone differently. The following are some of the general symptoms associated with the condition.

Skin changes, including:

  • Hardening of your skin, particularly on your hands, arms and face, and occasionally on your trunk and legs
  • Loss of hair over the affected area
  • Change in skin color
  • Ulcers or sores on your fingers

Swelling or puffiness in your hands or feet, often occurring in the morning.

A condition called sclerodactyly, which is the thickening or hardening of the skin of the fingers and toes, also can occur. This may develop after the initial swelling goes away and may be followed by the shrinking or atrophy of skin. You may experience:

  • Skin on your fingers and toes becoming hard and shiny
  • Difficulty bending your fingers

Raynaud's Phenomenon, a condition associated with poor blood flow to fingers and toes. Blood flow decreases because blood vessels in these areas become narrow for a short time in response to cold or emotional stress. Raynaud's Phenomenon may cause:

  • Your fingers, toes, tips of your ears, nose or tongue to be very sensitive to cold
  • Your fingers to turn bluish or very pale
  • Your fingers to feel tingly, numb or cold

Telangiectasia, which occurs when tiny blood vessels become dilated and show through your skin. Small reddish spots may appear on your fingers, palms, face, lips and tongue. These spots are harmless and can be hidden with cosmetics.

Calcinosis, which occurs when small white calcium lumps form in or under the skin. It is caused by scleroderma and not by too much calcium in your diet. The lumps occasionally break through the skin and leak a chalky, white material. If injured, they may become infected.

Arthritis and muscle weakness, including:

  • Pain, stiffness and swelling
  • General fatigue
  • Muscle weakness, often in your upper arms or thighs

Digestive problems including poor function of your esophagus and bowels. Symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Heartburn
  • Bloating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea or constipation

If the heart and lungs are affected, you may experience:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Persistent cough
  • Chest pain

Kidney problems, such as kidney failure and high blood pressure. Symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Severe headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Trouble seeing
  • Mental confusion

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.