By Riva Preil

Scleroderma is more prevalent in women than men, and in fact they are four times more likely to develop the disease. In the United States, 1 in 1,000 individuals develop scleroderma, and onset is usually between 30 to 50. The older a person is at the age of diagnosis, the more dangerous the disease is. It is commonly found amongst African American females and the native American Choctaw tribe. In children, the systemic version is much more frequently diagnosed than the diffuse version.

Unfortunately, there is no direct cure for scleroderma, however there are options for symptom management. Immunosuppressive agents (such as cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, and azathioprine) are used to counteract the hypersensitive autoimmune response. Skin fibrosis has been treated somewhat successfully with D-penicillamine, cyclosporine, colchicine, and EPA (an omega-3 oil derivative). Vasodilator medications are used to improve blood flow to the extremities for individuals who suffer from Raynaud’s phenomenon.

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