Scleroderma, or systemic sclerosis, is a chronic connective tissue disease generally classified as one of the autoimmune rheumatic diseases. One of the hallmarks is the thickening or hardening of the skin.
Scleroderma can cause serious damage to internal organs including the lungs, heart, kidneys, oesophagus, and gastrointestinal tract. As such, it is often referred to as a "multi-system" disease.
Scleroderma is not contagious, it is not infectious, and it is not cancerous or malignant. Scleroderma can be life-threatening.
Scleroderma affects both sexes, with a female to male ratio of between three and four to one. It can occur at any age although the peak incidence is 40-60 years. The condition can occur in children although this is rare. It has been reported in most countries throughout the world and in most racial groups. There are estimated to be over 5000 people with scleroderma in Australia.
Information courtesy of Scleroderma Australia.