If you’ve never heard of it, scleroderma is an autoimmune and rheumatic disease that can negatively impact the body through the hardening of the skin and underlying connective tissue. It’s also a chronic ailment, meaning it can be hard to completely cure those afflicted by the disease.
Not all scleroderma cases are the same. Some patients will experience only the hardening and tightening of the skin, while others will experience the hardening of connective tissue and even major organs. Left untreated, scleroderma can leave a patient in constant discomfort and pain. That’s why it’s so important to understand the basic rules behind scleroderma.
1. It’s an autoimmune disease
Contrary to popular opinion, an autoimmune disease is not necessarily a disease that attacks the immune system. In actual fact, most autoimmune diseases like scleroderma result in the autoimmune system functioning but not in the interest of the body as a whole. In the case of scleroderma, the immune system views the patient’s own skin and tissue as a foreign invader to be attacked and removed from the body.
The result: the cells begin to harden and tighten in an effort to repair damage — even though there’s no clear damage to the body or its cells. In turn, this leads to the overproduction of collagen, which can result in general discomfort and even malfunctioning organs.