Skip Navigation

Scleroderma is an uncommon disease in which parts of the skin and blood vessels break down and are replaced by fibrous tissue. Organ damage may also occur. This can lead to joint damage and lung, kidney, or heart failure and other life-threatening conditions. When scleroderma affects organs, it is called systemic sclerosis.

Symptoms of scleroderma can include thickening of the skin, joint pain and stiffness, problems swallowing, and cold fingertips that may turn white or blue (Raynaud's phenomenon). More serious symptoms may occur as the disease progresses and affects major organs.

What causes scleroderma isn't known. But it likely involves a problem with the immune system. There is no cure. But treatment can help relieve symptoms and prevent complications.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.