Stephanie Somers, Executive Director of the Greater Chicago Chapter of the Scleroderma Foundation, said the disease is a hardening of the skin.
“Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease that causes the hardening of your skin,” Somers explained. “The word scleroderma literally translates to mean hard skin. You lose a lot of functionality and mobility because your skin becomes very tight. It can also attack internal organs so it can cause damage to your heart, lungs, kidneys, and digestive system. It can really affect the entire body.”
There are several different symptoms that come with scleroderma.
“Most patients will experience what’s called Raynaud’s phenomenon in their hands. A lot of patients will notice their hands turning purple or white. They get very cold. Others experience stiffness. joint pain or other inflammation in their body. Maybe it’s just difficulty moving or doing everyday activities that used to be easy. Some people it could be fatigue, shortness of breath – depending on which parts of the body are affected.”
If you may be experiencing these symptoms, talk to your doctor or seek a diagnosis from a dermatologist or specialist.
Somers said the most important function of the Scleroderma Foundation is to create awareness because it is an auto immune disease that is often misdiagnosed and goes undiagnosed. It is very difficult to diagnose.
Scleroderma is not contagious, infectious, hereditary, cancerous or malignant. The exact cause of scleroderma are still unknown, but scientists and medical researchers are working to make those determinations. It is known that scleroderma involves an overproduction of collagen.
June is Scleroderma Awareness Month with yesterday being World Scleroderma Day.
One thing that Stephanie Somers and WKVI’s Anita Goodan have in common is that they have both lost loved ones to this disease and are spreading awareness.
If you would like more information, visit this website.