Is Limited Scleroderma Life Threatening?

Limited scleroderma is a mild scleroderma, which is limited to lower arms, hands, feet, lower legs, sometimes face and neck. It may involve the lungs and digestive system. Its causes are not known. Its typical symptoms include hardening of the skin over hands, feet, and face, heartburn and dysphagia. This disease gradually worsens with the time and can cause serious results. There is no definite cure for the condition. It is diagnosed by skin biopsy and blood test. It can be managed with medicines.

Is Limited Scleroderma Life Threatening?

Is Limited Scleroderma Life Threatening?

Limited scleroderma is a mild type of scleroderma that is limited to the skin of specific parts such as hands, feet, forearm, and lower legs. It may affect the skin of the face or neck. It can affect vital organs such as the digestive tract, lungs, heart or kidneys.

Limited scleroderma does not cause major problems. It is limited to the skin. It develops gradually and slowly. It becomes life threatening when it involves the lungs or heart.

Scleroderma can be mild or severe that can be fatal. It can be life threatening. Its seriousness depends on the involvement of the organ and extent of its affection. It is different in different persons. It is a chronic ailment that is not contagious. Its etiology is not known. It usually develops in 35 and 50 years. Children and adults can catch the disease. It is not a hereditary disease.

The symptoms of limited scleroderma are-

Hardening of Skin- the changes in the skin is seen in lower arms, legs and fingers and toes. Limited Scleroderma can cause red spots on the face or neck. Skin appears shiny or glossy and pulled up over the underlying bone. The skin becomes tight and it becomes difficult to move the involved joints like opening your mouth or bending your fingers.

Raynaud’s phenomenon – Limited Scleroderma condition usually develops in the small blood vessels of your fingers or toes. Feet and hands get blanched from white, to blue or to red due to cold or emotional stress. This happens mainly due to the blockage of blood. The skin usually becomes red and a tingling sensation is felt when blood circulation improves. After the appearance of the Raynaud’s disease, it may take months to years to develop into scleroderma.

The appearance of Red spots on the Skin- small red spots or lines appear on the skin as the small blood capillaries swell. These limited scleroderma spots do not cause pain.

Bumpy Skin- calcium deposits appear on the skin with the time. It develops under the skin, especially on the elbows, knees or fingers. The skin thus appears bumpy and is painful. It may catch an infection in some cases.

Dysphagia– it may also cause problems in swallowing. The esophagus gets swollen so that may result in back movement of the stomach acids up into the esophagus. This causes inflammation, heartburn, and scarring of esophageal tissues.

Complications of Limited Scleroderma

Ulcers on the Fingers or Toes- severe Raynaud’s phenomenon can lead to the obstruction of the blood vessels, resulting in ulcers. This may lead to a gangrenous condition of fingers or toes.

Digestive Problems- chronic scleroderma may cause improper functioning of esophageal muscles leading to constipation, diarrhoea, heartburn, malnutrition and unintended weight loss.

Damage to Lungs- collagen fibres may accumulate in the lungs, resulting in severe damage to the lungs.

Kidney Problems – restricted blood flow to the kidney may cause renal crises with a risk of kidney failure because of limited scleroderma.

Heart Problems- scleroderma can cause scarring of heart tissues resulting in abnormal heart rhythms and can cause heart ailments.


Limited scleroderma is an autoimmune disease which leads to hardening of the skin to limited areas such as a forearm, lower legs, foot, fingers, toes sometimes face and neck. It is mild in nature. But it involves vital organs such as the kidney, heart, and lungs that can result in serious life threatening problems.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:February 29, 2020

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