It's not Just Growing Pains: A Guide to Childhood Muscle, Bone, and Joint Pain, Rheumatic Diseases, and the Latest Treatments

By Thomas J. A. Lehman | Go to book overview

15
Scleroderma

Scleroderma is a broad term that simply means ‘hard skin.” A variety of different diseases are grouped together under this diagnosis. The focal (or localized) forms of scleroderma are often mild and may not require any treatment. In contrast, progressive systemic sclerosis (also called diffuse scleroderma) is a life-threatening disease typically involving the heart, lungs, and other organs. Often when a family contacts me it is because they were told the child had scleroderma. They have no idea whether the child has a severe or mild form. Fortunately, the mild forms of scleroderma are far more common than the severe ones.

Because the different forms of scleroderma are so different from each other, it is necessary to discuss them separately. Typically, each of these conditions looks very different from the others, but children with confusing conditions that seem to overlap do exist.


LOCAL FORMS OF SCLERODERMA

Morphea

Jill was an eight-year-old girl who developed a pink spot on her back.
At first no one noticed, but it was obvious in the summer when she put
her bathing suit on. It looked like a big pink circle with a whitish
central area. Her mother thought first of Lyme disease, but two weeks
of antibiotics had no effect. The lesion was treated with topical oint-
ments for dry skin, then for ringworm, all without improvement. After
six weeks Jill’s mother took her to a dermatologist. He looked at the

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