Scleroderma (or Systemic Sclerosis also known as SSc) is broadly divided into Localised form meaning that it affects small areas of the skin, such as Morphoea or Linear Scleroderma and Systemic form, which affects multiple body systems.
The systemic form of SSc is further divided into two major groups based on extent of the skin affected. Diffuse Cutaneous SSc has widespread skin involvement and the second type, Limited Cutaneous SSc affects the skin over the hands, lower arms, feet, lower legs and face. The limited type is approximately five times more common than the diffuse type.
In the diffuse type of SSc, internal organs may be affected early on in the illness. In the limited form, the major problems tend to occur later and the gut (bloating, diarrhoea and incontinence) and lung (usually Pulmonary Hypertension with raised blood pressure within the major vessels from the lung to the heart) may be affected. In addition, there may be calcinosis (deposits of calcium which mass under the skin and protrude), dry eyes and mouth, ulceration and Raynaud's disease (see entry Raynaud's Phenomenon).
Juvenile Scleroderma differs from the adult disease in that localised forms predominate. The juvenile disease attacks particularly the skin, muscles, joints, tendons and bones, with internal organ involvement a rarity. Childhood Morphoea may last for several years then resolve spontaneously, but the linear form may lead to growth defects, which require immediate treatment including physiotherapy.