Scleroderma is a skin disease that involves hardening and stiffening of the skin and connective tissues, according to Mayo Clinic. It occurs when the body's immune system produces too much collagen, resulting in thicker, tighter skin.
Scleroderma is categorized into either localized and systemic, according to MedlinePlus. Localized scleroderma typically affects only the skin on the hands and face, rarely causing any serious problems. Systemic scleroderma can affect large areas of the skin and internal organs.
Scleroderma tends to develop quickly in the first few years and slowly worsen over time. Those with localized scleroderma have a better outlook than those with systemic scleroderma. Systemic scleroderma can cause major health problems such as cancer, heart failure, pulmonary fibrosis and kidney failure, according to MedlinePlus.