Hardening of the skin or scleroderma is also known as progressive systemic sclerosis. However, it has been found that scleroderma is not progressive and not contagious. The word scleroderma comes from two Greek words: ‘sclero' being hard and derma meaning skin. This disease varies from patient to patient and is not infectious, cancerous or malignant. It is a chronic connective tissue disease that is also classified as one of the autoimmune rheumatic diseases. The symptoms for scleroderma are different for each person. It can be mild to life threatening. It also depends on which part of the body is affected and to what extent they are affected. A mild case of scleroderma can become serious if it is not treated immediately. Correct and timely diagnosis can minimise the symptoms of scleroderma and reduce the chances of serious and irreversible damage. While the exact cause for scleroderma is unknown, but doctors believe it is an excess production of collagen in the body that leads to this condition. Though scleroderma is not considered hereditary, it is believed that those with a family history of rheumatic diseases may be prone to it. Presently there is no cure for scleroderma but there are treatments available to treat the symptoms, so that the patients can manage the condition in a better manner. Scleroderma can develop between the ages of 25 and 55. However, there are exceptions to this rule as each case is different and the patient should discuss the treatment options with the doctor.
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