Limited scleroderma has no known cure. Treatment focuses on relieving signs and symptoms and preventing complications.
Several types of medications can help ease the signs and symptoms of limited scleroderma, including:
- Topical antibiotics. If skin ulcers become infected, you may need to apply topical antibiotics and bandage the area. If topical treatment doesn't work, you may need oral or intravenous antibiotics.
- Antacid drugs. If limited scleroderma is giving you heartburn, your doctor may suggest drugs that reduce the production of stomach acid.
- Blood pressure lowering drugs. Medications that open small blood vessels and increase circulation may help relieve Raynaud's symptoms and reduce increased pressure in the arteries between the heart and lungs.
- Drugs to suppress the immune system. These types of medications have shown promise in preventing a condition in which excess collagen collects in the tissue between the lungs' air sacs.
Stiff, painful joints and skin are common problems in limited scleroderma. Learning the right way to stretch and exercise through physical or occupational therapy can help you maintain your flexibility and strength.
- Physical therapy. Stretching exercises are important to help prevent loss of mobility in your finger joints. A physical therapist can also show you facial exercises that may help keep your face and mouth flexible as well.
- Occupational therapy. If limited scleroderma is making it difficult for you to perform daily tasks, an occupational therapist can help you learn new ways of doing things. For example, special toothbrushes and flossing devices can make it easier for you to care for your teeth.
For some problems, a surgical procedure may be necessary, including for:
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- Calcium deposits. Large or painful calcium deposits are sometimes surgically removed.
- Red spots or lines. Laser surgery can reduce the appearance of red spots or lines caused by swollen blood vessels near the surface of the skin.
- Gangrene in fingers. Amputation of fingertips may be necessary if skin ulcers progress to gangrene.
- Imboden JB, et al. Current Rheumatology Diagnosis & Treatment. 3rd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2013. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=809. Accessed Feb. 15, 2014.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed Feb. 15, 2014.
- Handout on health: Scleroderma. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Scleroderma/default.asp#3. Accessed Feb. 15, 2014.
- Van don Hoogen F, et al. 2013 classification criteria for systemic sclerosis: An American college of rheumatology/European league against rheumatism collaborative initiative. Annals of the Rheumatic Disease. 2013;72:1747.
- Denton CP. Overview of the treatment and prognosis of systemic sclerosis (scleroderma) in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 15, 2014.