In diffuse scleroderma, more areas of the skin becomes thickened. Skin on the arms, legs, and trunk are more likely to be involved. Diffuse scleroderma patients have a higher risk of developing “sclerosis” or fibrous hardening of the internal organs. In this case, skin thickening occurs rapidly.
About half of all scleroderma patients have this slower developing and less harmful form of scleroderma. The skin thickening is less widespread and typically confined to the fingers, hands, and face. In some cases, limited scleroderma can also affect the digestive tract, lungs, or heart. Usually, it develops slowly over years. Limited scleroderma is also known as CREST syndrome. “CREST” is an acronym for the following conditions that occur in limited sclerosis: calcinosis, Raynaud’s phenomenon, esophageal dysfunction, sclerodactyly, and elangiectasia.