Cutaneous sclerosis is a rare disease in which the skin develops thicker layers and or scars. While this condition primarily affects the skin, these symptoms can also be found in other tissues and joints. Individuals with cutaneous sclerosis have an overproduction of collagen (a protein needed for connective tissue) by the skin cells during the healing process. Although the cause is not always known, it is seen in 10-20% of persons with graft-versus-host disease (please also visit: graft versus host disease.) which occurs after a transplant of cells, tissues, or organs.
Symptoms of cutaneous sclerosis include visible changes to the skin where is looks thick, feels tight and does not move easily. The diagnosis is confirmed by taking a skin sample and studying it under a microscope. Cutaneous sclerosis is often treated by oral steroids and immunosuppressive treatments to decrease the activity of the immune system (your body’s response to infection). Other more specialized treatments are sometimes needed if these fail. If you or a family member has been diagnosed with cutaneous sclerosis, talk with your doctor or specialist about the most current treatment options. There are support groups for more general scleroderma diagnosis, which provide additional resources.