Scleroderma

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Treatment

There is no cure for scleroderma. In many cases, symptoms stabilize and begin to ease after several years. Skin may soften but remain discolored and may become fragile. Tissue and organ damage that has accumulated is often permanent.

Treatment of scleroderma is focused on managing symptoms, minimizing damage to organs and tissues, and maintaining mobility in affected joints. Treatments may include the following.

For Raynaud phenomenon: keeping hands and feet warm and avoiding temperature extremes, avoiding smoking and, in some cases, medications to help improve blood flow and reduce high blood pressure.

For esophageal dysfunction and gastrointestinal reflux: eating small meals and avoiding spicy foods as well as medications such as proton pump inhibitors, antacids, or H2-blockers.

Other treatments may include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and other pain relievers as well as medications to reduce inflammation, corticosteroids and other immune suppressants, medications for hypertension, and topical skin treatments for open sores and itching. Physical and occupational therapy may be indicated to maintain muscle strength and range of motion, and dental treatments may help to improve flexibility in the jaw muscles and maintain oral health. Sometimes, surgery is necessary to address tissue damage, joint contractures, calcium deposits, or other complications.

For more information on treatments available for those with scleroderma, see the Scleroderma Research Foundation webpage: Current Treatments.

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