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Symptoms of Scleroderma

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:

Condition InDepth

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
  • Tiredness

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.
  • Scleroderma. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/scleroderma.
  • Systemic sclerosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/systemic-sclerosis.
  • What is scleroderma? Scleroderma Foundation website. Available at: https://scleroderma.org/what-is-scleroderma.


  • James P. Cornell, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.