Scleroderma is an autoimmune condition that affects the skin and connective tissue. A person who is living with scleroderma will have an overactive immune system, meaning that the body attacks its own healthy tissues, causing hardening and scarring.

'Scleroderma' is an umbrella term that refers to the various different types of this rare and complex condition. It comes from two Greek words: 'sclero' meaning 'hard' and 'derma,' which means 'skin'. Hardening of the skin is often the first sign that people notice, which occurs because the body is producing too much collagen.

It is thought that around 2.5 million people worldwide are affected by scleroderma, which can range from mild to severe and in some cases may even become life-threatening. It is important to remember that every story is unique and that no two cases are ever identical. How an individual will be affected by their condition will depend upon the type of scleroderma that they have.

Types of scleroderma

There are two main types of scleroderma: localised and systemic. Localised scleroderma will mainly affect the skin, and for many people this will be a milder form of the disease. In systemic scleroderma (systemic sclerosis), some of the internal organs are involved as well, such as the heart, lungs or kidneys. Raynaud's phenomenon is often a common symptom of both types of scleroderma.

Please follow the links below to find out everything you need to know about the various forms of scleroderma, including its diagnosis, treatment and management.