Is Morphea Itchy?
Morphea is usually non-itchy unless what you have is ‘plaque morphea’ because this is the kind of morphea that might lead to itchiness but it remains painless.
Morphea is a skin ailment due to which the affected part of your skin hardens. It is also known by its other name-localized scleroderma. There is thickening of skin due which it feels hardened and sometimes it may be become discolored too.
It only affects the superficial layers (subcutaneous tissue) of skin and it occurs in the form of patches.
Which Body Part Does Morphea Affect?
It can occur at any site on your body like face, scalp, hands, legs, back, etc. There is no particular site for it to appear.
What Age Group Is More Likely To Suffer From Morphea?
This skin condition does not have any age preference that means it can affect you at any age.
What Are The Causes Of Morphea?
The exact cause of morphea is yet to be discovered but basically it is an autoimmune disorder. Autoimmune diseases are the ones in which your immune system attacks your own body cells and tissues. So in this case the immune system attacks the subcutaneous tissues.
Due to the autoimmunity, there is overproduction of collagen resulting in hardening of the skin. Some of the possible reasons that can lead to collagen overproduction are.
- Frequent trauma to the skin
- History of any family member suffering from this disease
- Skin infections
- Excessive exposure to radiation (1)
Is There Systemic Involvement In Morphea?
No. There is no systemic involvement in morphea, which means it does not affect any other internal organs of your body. It is limited to skin itself.
Is Morphea Contagious?
Definitely not; It is not contagious because the cause is autoimmunity and not an infection by microorganisms.
Different Types Of Morphea
Plaque Morphea. This type is found to be the most common one. It presents as small round to oval patches on skin that may be discolored. They are painless but sometimes may lead to itchiness.
Linear Morphea. This type most commonly affects areas of arms, forehead and legs. Visually it appears like a thin line of hardened skin. It may affect the deeper structures like muscles and sometimes bones underneath.
Generalized Morphea. As the name suggests in this type there is widespread involvement of the skin and presents with discoloration and it might also cause muscular atrophy. There might be disfigurement and decreased function of the affected site due to muscle atrophy.
Pansclerotic Morphea. It is characterized by almost whole body involvement leaving the extremities (means the feet and hands). It is a severe kind and needs prompt medical attention. (1)
What Are The Possible Complications Of Morphea?
- Deformity of the affected body part
- Pain, if there is joint involvement
- Restriction of movements
- Damage to the eyes causing visual impairment, if the lesion is on the forehead (frontal region) and encroaches the eyes
- Alopecia (loss of hair) over the involved area. (1)
How Is Morphea Diagnosed?
There is no specific test to diagnose morphea. The diagnosis is made primarily on the basis of physical appearance of the lesion and by ruling out other possible conditions.
Sometimes skin biopsy may be done to find out other infectious causes.
How Is It Treated?
There is no cure for this skin ailment. Only conservative management can be done to lower its spread. Some of the options available are.
Topical Corticosteroids. Steroids lower the immune system and so it helps to control morphea as it an autoimmune disease. Although steroids do have their own side effects and disadvantages.
Phototherapy. The ultraviolet light is used to control the lesions. Mostly PUVA (psoralen and ultraviolet A) and UVA1 (ultraviolet A1) are used.
Using sunscreen regularly might be of help.
Usually morphea curbs on its own even after all the possible treatment is taken. (1)