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Also known as progressive systemic sclerosis. A rare disease that produces hardening of the skin, which becomes smooth, shiny, and tight. The skin of the face may shrink so much that it becomes difficult to open the mouth widely; movement of the fingers is hampered and they may develop contractures. The condition is very similar to the toxic oil syndrome, which affected 20,000 people in Madrid in 1981.

The skin manifestations are part of a general systemic disturbance that affects the connective tissue of the joints, intestine, lungs, and kidneys, and may affect the heart. The cause of the disease is not known with certainty, but it is thought to be an immunological disorder.

Scleroderma affects four times as many women as men, and usually occurs in women in their 40s and 50s. Persons with a mild form of the disease have a slow progression of symptoms and a more favorable prognosis. Those with a more severe case will have widespread disease with internal involvement of the heart, lungs, and kidneys, which can cause death.

There is no known cure for this disease, but steroids may bring some relief.

Scler`o*der"ma (?), n. [NL.] Med.

A disease of adults, characterized by a diffuse rigidity and hardness of the skin.


© Webster 1913.

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