Pediatric Scleroderma in Children

What are the signs and symptoms of systemic sclerosis?

The skin changes of systemic sclerosis can include:

  • Loss of the skin’s ability to stretch
  • Light or dark discoloration of the skin
  • Thinning of the skin
  • Curling of the fingers (contractures)
  • Decreased hand function because of skin tightening on fingers and hand

Initially, the skin of the hands and feet appears swollen. Over time, the skin tightens and hardens and may appear to have ridges, depressed areas, or small pits that are seen mostly at the fingertips.

Since there is not much pain, it is common for scleroderma to be present for quite some time before a parent or child becomes concerned.

Other signs and symptoms of systemic sclerosis may include:

  • Joint inflammation with stiffness and pain
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon – abnormal sensitivity to cold, which is usually seen in the hands. Signs include color changes in the hands (white, blue, red), tingling, discomfort, and decreased sensation.
  • Sores (ulcers), mostly on the finger tips
  • Digestive problems (heartburn, trouble swallowing, diarrhea, stomach cramps)
  • Itching
  • Fatigue (easily becoming tired)
  • Muscle weakness

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