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Morphea or Scleroderma

What is morphea or scleroderma?

Morphea is an uncommon skin condition in which reddish or purple patches appear on the skin. Although the terms are used interchangeably at times, morphea is a localised form of scleroderma that causes different skin conditions - from discolouration and pigmentation to problems in functioning of joints, muscles and other connective tissues.

This problem can affect children and adults alike but is more common in women. Also, fair skinned people are more likely to develop morphea than dark skinned ones. The patches usually surface on abdomen, chest, back but may also appear on face, upper arms and legs. This form of scleroderma has a tendency to impact only the outermost layers of skin and the fatty tissue just below the dermis. The condition subsides on its own but patches and blemishes cause cosmetic concerns and you may require treatment. At times, severe morphea can also limit movement of your joints and therefore calls for curative therapies.

What are the symptoms of this condition?

Morphea is a kind of scleroderma that plainly means ‘hard skin’. Its signs and symptoms include:

  • Thickening and hardening of skin
  • Pigmentation of the affected part to turn darker or lighter than the surrounding area
  • Elliptical marks that change colour and develop a white centre over time
  • Linear patches particularly on arms and legs
  • Weakening of sweat and hair glands from the impacted parts over time
This condition typically affects the only external layers of your skin but in certain cases, it may impact the deeper fatty tissue and also the connective tissue underneath the skin. The problem normally lasts for few years and then goes away on its own. But most often it does leave behind patches of darkened or discoloured skin and this is why early treatment is recommended.

Some children and adults with severe morphoea often complain of muscle and joint pains along with general fatigue. Fits, headaches, vascular malformation, ocular deformities and other neurological symptoms may also be associated with this form of scleroderma.

What causes morphea or scleroderma?

This skin disease develops because of an unusual reaction of the immune system. Its attack may also be related to:

  • Localised injury including that caused by injections and radiation therapy.
  • Insect, particularly tick bites
  • Recurring trauma or strain on the impacted area
  • A recent viral infection, such as measles, small pox or chickenpox
  • Auto-immune diseases like vitiligo, lichen planus, diabetes and thyroid problems
  • Medications such as bleomycin and penicillamine

Am I at risk of developing morphea or scleroderma?

Morphea can occur because of different reasons and the exact cause is till unknown. But you are at a stronger chance of developing the condition if you:

  • Are a woman
  • Are fair skinned

How to prevent this condition?

Listed below are some precautions that you can take to prevent morphea:

  • Avoid exposure to silica dust found in mines, solvents used in paint thinners
  • Ensure proper dental care and oral hygiene
  • Avoid use of soaps and shampoos that have a tendency to dry your skin and scalp
  • Do not take long, hot showers as these too can dry your skin
  • Exercise regularly and stretch your joints to keep the skin pliable
  • Reduce stress
  • Drink plenty of water to keep skin hydrated
  • Contact your dermatologist soon if you see any abnormal pigmentation, patches or wart like growth on your skin

Treatment at Skin Alive

Morphea usually goes away with time but to reduce inflammation and prevent thickening of collagen, doctors often recommend corticosteroid creams or lotions. Corticosteroid based medications may also be prescribed in oral forms. In some cases calcipotriene cream which is a synthetic form of vitamin D helps to diminish the effects of morphea For this Skin Alive uses one of the following treatments:

Hypertrophic scars can be treated with combination of lasers. Recessed scars can be lifted and filled with dermal fillers for near normal appearance.

Your Appointment

When you meet your dermatologist at our centre, feel free to ask any question and get your concerns about morphea resolved to your satisfaction. We diagnose your condition and consider the medications that you have taken earlier for the treatment. Your allergies and personal health are also taken into account before outlining a bespoke treatment plan. Any medication or topical application that you may need in your course of morphea treatment at Skin Alive can be procured from our clinic.

We welcome you to a path for healthier, radiant and aesthetically superior skin. Get rid of your skin problems and add a new spark to your persona with the finest therapies.

Call us on +91-8527622991 to book your appointment.

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