What are the types of scleroderma?

There are two types of scleroderma: localized and systemic.

Localized scleroderma usually affects one or a few areas of skin and muscle. The types of localized scleroderma include morphea (mor-FEE-ah) and linear scleroderma.

* Morphea appears as one or more thickened patches or plaques (plax). The plaques are frequently smooth and become hard. They usually appear on the waist.

* Linear scleroderma appears as one or two long bands of thickened and hardened skin on the arms, legs or face. This form of the disease often occurs in children. The bands are usually a different color from normal skin, such as blue, red or purplish. If the band appears on the face, this type of localized scleroderma is called, en coup de sabre (on KOO da SAAB; "strike of the sword").

There are scleroderma-like diseases, too. Scleroderma-like diseases include sclerodema (sklair-oh-DEE-mah) and eosinophilic fasciitis (ee-sin-oh-FEEL-ick fash-e-ITE-is). Sclerodema is a hardening of the skin due to fluid build-up. Eosinophilic fasciitis is deep morphea.

Systemic scleroderma (or "systemic sclerosis") affects more of the body than localized scleroderma. People with systemic scleroderma can have abnormal growth of connective tissue and blood vessel damage to their skin and internal organs. Complications from systemic scleroderma may cause damage to many parts of the body, including the lungs, kidneys, heart, gastro-intestinal tract and joints. There are limited and diffuse forms of systemic scleroderma.

Diffuse scleroderma often progresses more rapidly than limited scleroderma. Both limited and diffuse forms of scleroderma can be life-threatening.