Morphea is a form of scleroderma wherein red colored patches are formed into the skin disease. It can be seen in the abdomen, stomach, back, face, arms, and legs. Morphea occurs due to thickening of the collagen in the affected area. It can be classified depending upon the localization of the lesions and depth of the tissue affected.
Is Morphea A Serious Condition?
Morphea affects only the skin and deeper layers, but not the internal organs. Morphea is not a serious condition. The Morphea resides for 3-5 years and after that symptoms subside on its own. The affected skin cannot come back to its original color and texture.
The classification is as follows:
Localized Or Circumscribed Morphea. In this condition, lesions can be seen on trunk, legs, and arms
Generalized Morphea. The lesions can be seen in the larger part of the body such as trunks and legs
Linear Morphea. It occurs as single skin bands which have penetrated deeper into the skin and are present in legs, arms or upper body. The scar penetrates deep into the muscles and the bones and even result in disability. If linear Morphea occurs on the face or neck region, it can affect the eyes and the teeth.
Pansclerotic Morphea. In this type of Morphea the tissue below the skin is affected and it can restrict joint movement.
The cause of Morphea remains unknown, but it has been associated with autoimmune diseases, radiation therapy of the affected area or infection.
Typical Morphea patches are red in color and oval shaped while the center of it is lighter. The patchy areas have lesser sweat glands and they lose their hair over a period of time. The role of genetics and vascular dysfunction is also known to play an important role. The role of environmental factors in causing Morphea cannot be ignored.
There is no treatment for Morphea. The treatment strategy for modifying the disease course is controlling the symptoms depending upon the severity and the area affected. In active Morphea, the patch which is less than three months old, with symptoms of inflammation responds to the treatment but in most cases, Morphea typically goes away on its own. The most uncomplicated form of Morphea does not require any treatment and fade away with time. Morphea can be treated by topical application of corticosteroids, sunscreen, and moisturizers. A phototherapy is also a good option for treating Morphea which involve exposure to ultraviolet rays. This therapy is not useful for deeply penetrated Morphea. The inflammation associated can be treated by either oral or topical application of corticosteroids. Immune suppressants such as methotrexate are also efficient in controlling Morphea.
The deeply penetrated Morphea into muscles and the bones can result in impairment of mobility. If it affects hands and legs, then performing daily activities such as cutting fruits and vegetables becomes difficult. As the condition does not affect the internal organs or crucial functioning of the body, it is not a life-threatening condition.
The scars present on the arms, legs or face affects the aesthetic appearance and decreases self-esteem. Two or more patches combine together to form large patches in generalized Morphea.
Morphea can happen at any age but is most commonly seen in 2-14 years of age or after 40 years and it is more common in females than in males.