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What is systemic disease?

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Systemic disease is disease that affects the whole body, instead of being restricted to a body part or organ, according to MedlinePlus. Examples of systemic diseases include influenza and systemic lupus erythematosus, a disease in which the body's immune system attacks the body itself, notes Healthline.

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A person's hands may display signs of systemic disease, according to the American Society for Surgery of the Hand. Since hands are made of various tissue types, such as skin, nerves, blood vessels, bones and muscles, there are many ways for them to show changes reflecting a disease or disorder that affects the entire body. Patients often notice changes in their hands before becoming aware of a systemic disease. For example, when small red dots appear in the thin part of the skin surrounding the fingernails, it is often a symptom of systemic lupus.

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