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by EBSCO Medical Review Board

Symptoms of Scleroderma

Symptoms are not the same in each person. Symptoms also depend on the type of scleroderma that a person has.
Localized scleroderma affects the skin and the structures under it. Problems may be:
  • One or more skin patches on the face, scalp, trunk, or limbs that may be:
    • Patches or streaks
    • Red or purple
    • Waxy looking and surrounded by darkened skin
  • Muscle or joint pain or tightening
  • Fatigue
Systemic scleroderma also causes problems with the skin, such as tightness, thickening, and shiny skin. The skin may also itch.
Other added problems may be:
  • Raynaud phenomenon—A problem with blood vessels that leads to poor blood flow to the fingers, toes, nose, cheeks, or ears
  • Muscle pain, tightening, inflammation, or swelling
  • Digestive problems, such as diarrhea or constipation
  • Problems swallowing
  • Problems breathing
  • Heartburn
  • Fainting
  • Problems sleeping
  • Pain during sex
  • Erection problems in men


Kowal-Bielecka O, Fransen J, et al. Update of EULAR recommendations for the treatment of systemic sclerosis. Ann Rheum Dis. 2017 Aug;76(8):1327-1339.
Localized scleroderma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/localized-scleroderma. Accessed August 12, 2020.
Scleroderma. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niams.nih.gov/Health%5FInfo/Scleroderma/default.asp. Accessed August 12, 2020.
Systemic sclerosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/systemic-sclerosis. Accessed August 12, 2020.
What is scleroderma? Scleroderma Foundation website. Available at: http://www.scleroderma.org/site/PageServer?pagename=patients%5Fwhatis#.WEhnf02QzIV. Accessed August 12, 2020.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board James P. Cornell, MD
  • Review Date: 03/2020
  • Update Date: 03/09/2021