What Are the Symptoms of Scleroderma?

Symptoms of scleroderma include hardening of the skin and Raynaud's disease, a response in the fingers or toes to cold temperatures, states Mayo Clinic. The symptoms of scleroderma depend on what part of the body is affected, but can also include life-threatening changes in the kidneys and the heart.

Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease of the body's connective tissues that occurs when too much collagen is produced, according to the Scleroderma Foundation. Hardening or tightening of the skin is a common symptom in scleroderma, where the skin becomes very taut, sometimes inhibiting normal movements. If symptoms are localized to a few areas of the body, the disease is considered mild, and internal organs are generally not involved.

Systemic scleroderma, however, can affect any connective tissue in the body, including the lungs, the heart, the kidneys and the digestive tract, reports the Scleroderma Foundation. With systemic scleroderma, the connective tissues harden, which affects the normal function of these internal organs.

As of 2015, the cause of scleroderma is unknown, although researchers believe that both heredity and environmental factors may play a role in whether a person develops scleroderma, states MedicineNet.com. Other autoimmune disorders are often found in a patient's family history, thus making a genetic cause a possibility.

While medications can help alleviate the symptoms of scleroderma, no cure for the disease has been found as of 2015, according to Mayo Clinic. Patients are generally prescribed medications and physical therapy to help with pain and to improve mobility.