Self-management

Keep warm

To reduce Raynaud's symptoms, wear gloves or mittens outdoors when the weather is cool and indoors when you reach into the freezer. To maintain your body's core temperature when it's cool, dress in layers, and wear a hat or scarf, thermal socks, and well-fitting boots or shoes that don't cut off your circulation.

Don't smoke

If you smoke, talk to your doctor about ways to quit. Nicotine constricts your blood vessels, making Raynaud's phenomena worse. Smoking also worsens heartburn.

Exercise regularly

Regular exercise can help you maintain your flexibility and strength. Ask your doctor or physical or occupational therapist what activities are right for you.

Change eating habits

If you have difficulty swallowing, choose soft, moist foods and chew them well. To minimize acid reflux:

  • Eat small, frequent meals
  • Avoid spicy or fatty foods, chocolate, caffeine, and alcohol
  • Don't exercise immediately before or after eating
  • Elevate the head of your bed using blocks
  • Remain upright for two or three hours after a meal and don't eat before bedtime

Protect your skin

Excess collagen destroys sweat and oil glands, leaving your skin stiff and dry. To help soften your skin:

  • Avoid harsh soaps and detergents. Choose cleansing creams or gentle skin cleansers and bath or shower gels with added moisturizers. Wear rubber gloves when doing the dishes or cleaning.
  • Bathe less often. Bathe every other day, and take brief baths and showers, using warm rather than hot water. Be gentle when washing your skin.
  • Moisturize. Apply a rich, oil-based, fragrance-free moisturizer after washing your hands or bathing, while your skin is still damp. Apply moisturizer to you skin throughout the day when your skin feels dry.
  • Use sunscreen. To prevent further damage to your skin, apply sunscreen before you go outside.
  • Use a humidifier. This will increase moisture in your home.

Practice good oral hygiene

Have regular checkups and use special rinses or toothpastes if your dentist recommends them. If your mouth is chronically dry, try drinking more water and sucking on ice chips or hard, sugarless candy. If these measures fail, your dentist might prescribe medication to stimulate the flow of saliva.

Because limited scleroderma can affect your appearance and your ability to perform simple tasks, your self-esteem can suffer. Depression and anxiety are common in people with the condition.

Talking with a counselor might help you cope with the changes caused by this disease. Communicating with people who have the same illness, either through online or in-person support groups, also can be helpful.

May 18, 2017
References
  1. What is scleroderma? Scleroderma Foundation. http://www.scleroderma.org/site/PageNavigator/patients_whatis.html#.WG0T5ZK8zhc. Accessed Jan. 4, 2017.
  2. Scleroderma. American College of Dermatology. http://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Diseases-Conditions/Scleroderma. Accessed Jan. 4, 2017.
  3. Longo DL, et al., eds. Systemic sclerosis (scleroderma) and related disorders. In: Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 19th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Education; 2015. http://accessmedicine.com. Accessed Jan. 4, 2017.
  4. Systemic sclerosis: Diffuse and limited. Scleroderma Foundation. http://www.scleroderma.org/site/Search?query=Systemic+scleroderma,+diffuse+and+limited#.WG0UrpK8zhdv. Accessed Jan. 4, 2017.
  5. Shah AA, et al. My approach to the treatment of scleroderma. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2013;88:377.
  6. AskMayoExpert. Scleroderma. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2016.
  7. 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 Jan. 4, 2017.
  8. Scleroderma. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/painful-skin-joints/scleroderma#tips. Accessed Jan. 5, 2017.
  9. Kidneys. Scleroderma Foundation. http://www.scleroderma.org/site/PageServer?pagename=body_kidney#.WHU6eZK8zhc. Accessed Jan. 10, 2017.