Sclerodactyly is a disorder that affects the fingers, either the hands or the feet and is characterized by the hardening of the skin in these structures. It is mainly related to autoimmune disorders, and although it can develop in anyone, it is more common in women.
It is a disease that has no cure and is progressive; that is, as time passes, it becomes more severe and compromises the functionality of the fingers. However, the degree of affectation can be reduced if the doctor is used to grant the corresponding treatment as soon as possible. If you are interested in learning more about sclerodactyly: causes and medicine, at FastlyHealwe, I will inform you about everything about this topic.
Table of Contents
Both toes and fingers can be affected by this disease, and their condition will depend on the cause and the speed at which it develops. Due to the complications that it can generate, it is necessary to see a doctor; for this, it is essential to know how to distinguish the main symptoms of sclerodactyly, which are:
- Gradual thickening of the skin on the fingers.
- Hardening and stiffness of the skin and tissue around the joints in the fingers.
- The skin stretches and becomes shiny.
- Difficulty extending or flexing the fingers.
- The fingers take a fixed position in semiflexion or curved.
- Fingertips with ulcers are usually in a more advanced stage.
Sclerodactyly begins to develop when due to some disorder, usually autoimmune, there is a greater stimulation in the activity of fibroblasts, which are a type of connective tissue cells, increasing the production of the substances synthesized, mainly of collagen fibers. This protein is abundant in the skin and bones, so an increase in its production can accumulate it, causing collagen deposits and causing the tissue in the affected area to thicken and become rigid.
This condition that can affect the fingers does not usually present itself but rather as a symptom of some other disease, mainly in those who have scleroderma, an autoimmune disease that groups different disorders that cause fibrosis. The cause of this disease is unknown, but a genetic factor could be associated.
Some varieties of scleroderma affect only the skin. Still, others can reach internal organs, including CREST syndrome or localized systemic sclerosis, in which one of the characteristic features is the development of sclerodactyly. This syndrome has a progressive, rheumatic inflammatory effect, considered serious for its ability to damage the lungs and kidneys.
On the other hand, suffering from mixed connective tissue disease can be another cause of sclerodactyly. It is a disease that affects the connective tissue by preventing excessive levels of the ribonucleoprotein antibody and that attacks the body’s healthy tissue by mistake. It becomes more common in women, and, in addition to the fingers, it can affect almost any part of the body.
CREST syndrome: treatment
So far, there is no method to permanently block the excessive production of collagen that leads to sclerodactyly. Therefore, there is no cure for any of the causes of this disease. Therefore, what is sought is to reduce and control the symptoms, both of the affectation of the fingers and of the pathology that produces it, using the complementary treatment for each case.
The doctor can base the treatment for sclerodactyly on administering non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Using corticosteroids – cortisone – and immunosuppressants can improve the general condition and promote slower progress of the thickening and hardening of the skin on the fingers.
Pharmacological treatment can also be accompanied by physiotherapy for sclerodactyly. The specialist must indicate the appropriate exercises according to the degree of affectation and the correct way to perform them not to cause more damage to the area. The objective is to maintain the mobility and flexibility of the joints and the skin on the fingers and promote the flow of blood to them. Also, the doctor may recommend using orthopedic devices to improve and facilitate the movement of the fingers in different daily activities.
Complications and care for sclerodactyly
Being a progressive disorder with no cure, sclerodactyly represents a severe condition of the functioning of the fingers. As the disease progresses, the mobility of the fingers can be lost, and the accumulation of collagen could block the correct blood supply to the fingers, either the hands or the feet. This insufficiency can result in tissue injuries, such as sores, and later complications such as gangrene. At this point, it is necessary to resort to amputation of the affected area.
These complications can be prevented with a series of care, including wearing appropriate gloves or stockings, which help to keep these areas warm and, in this way, open the blood vessels, favoring blood flow. In addition, the application of moisturizing and moisturizing creams, oils, or soaps are ideal for taking care of the skin and maintaining elasticity. It is also essential to avoid being in places with low temperatures and coming into contact with cold objects, strong detergents, or other irritating substances.
This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.
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I am a Surgeon with a diploma in comprehensive ultrasound and surgical care residency, an area I am specializing in. During the exercise of my profession, I have realized the need for patients to know the diseases they suffer, and I can tell you that a large part of their complications is due to a lack of information. Being a health web writer allows me to transmit my experience, without borders, to all those readers eager for knowledge, educate them in the prevention of diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle.