In some cases, the skin problems associated with scleroderma fade away on their own in three to five years. The type of scleroderma that affects internal organs usually worsens with time.
No drug has been developed that can stop the underlying process of scleroderma — the overproduction of collagen. But a variety of medications can help control scleroderma symptoms or help prevent complications. To accomplish this, these drugs may:
- Dilate blood vessels. Blood pressure medications that dilate blood vessels may help prevent lung and kidney problems and may help treat Raynaud's disease.
- Suppress the immune system. Drugs that suppress the immune system, such as those taken after organ transplants, may help reduce scleroderma symptoms.
- Reduce stomach acid. Medications such as omeprazole (Prilosec) can relieve symptoms of acid reflux.
- Prevent infections. Antibiotic ointment, cleaning and protection from the cold may help prevent infection of fingertip ulcers caused by Raynaud's disease. Regular influenza and pneumonia vaccinations can help protect lungs that have been damaged by scleroderma.
- Relieve pain. If over-the-counter pain relievers don't help enough, you can ask your doctor to prescribe stronger medications.
Physical or occupational therapists can help you to:
- Manage pain
- Improve your strength and mobility
- Maintain independence with daily tasks
Used as a last resort, surgical options for scleroderma complications may include:
- Amputation. If finger ulcers caused by severe Raynaud's disease have developed gangrene, amputation may be necessary.
- Lung transplants. People who have developed high blood pressure in the arteries to their lungs (pulmonary hypertension) may be candidates for lung transplants.
June 21, 2016
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- Denton CP. Overview and classification of scleroderma disorders. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 28, 2016.
- AskMayoExpert. Scleroderma. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2014.
- Shah AA, et al. My approach to the treatment of scleroderma. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2013;88:377.
- Denton CP. Overview of the treatment and prognosis of systemic sclerosis (scleroderma) in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 28, 2016.
- Coping with scleroderma. Scleroderma Foundation. http://www.scleroderma.org/site/PageServer?pagename=patients_coping#.VvmLT9j2aic. Accessed March 28, 2016.