Scleroderma is a autoimmune disease which is characterized by a range of symptoms depending upon the type of scleroderma and the severity of the scleroderma. In scleroderma, patches of thickened skin may appear on the surface of the skin. It also causes inflammation in the organs of the body. Scleroderma also affects internal organs such as heart, kidneys, lungs and esophagus. It damages functioning of the digestive system. Most of the complications related to scleroderma are caused on the skin. Scleroderma calcinosis is one such symptom that affects the skin of the patient suffering from scleroderma. In scleroderma calcinosis, tiny calcium deposits are found in the skin.
Calcium deposition formed on the surface of the skin can be seen as whitish areas. These deposits are mostly formed on the forearms, finger pads and around the knees. These hard deposits of calcium can be tender sometimes. This symptom is one of the symptoms of CREST syndrome, which is observed in the initial stages of scleroderma. This symptom is the least observed CREST syndrome among the rest symptoms. The exact cause of scleroderma and the calcium deposits in the skin is not known.
Calcinosis is restricted to limited type of scleroderma, but it is rarely observed in case of diffused form of scleroderma. Calcinosis increases the trouble that is caused due to inflammation, thickening and hardening of the skin in scleroderma. These depositions are caused beneath the skin which can be easily felt by fingers when touched in severe cases. In initial stages symptoms of calcinosis are not so severe and can be diagnosed only by taking an X-ray of the patient.
In some cases the deposition of calcium in the skin can become inflamed, this increase the severity of inflammation on the hands or any affected area. When there is inflammation in the fingers, the swollen part becomes red and has a burning sensation. These organs now experience pain and have difficulty in movements. In some cases, the inflammation is so severe that it breaks open the skin and exposes the calcium deposits below the skin. This can cause infection in that area and this complicates scleroderma and calcinosis. Ulcers may also be developed on the skin later, which are red and pus filled sometimes.
Treatment for scleroderma calcinosis:
Many drugs have been used so far in the treatment of scleroderma calcinosis, but no drug has proven to be so effective in treating calcinosis. However, we can use some drugs and reduce the amount of calcium formation under the skin to some extent.
Medication to reduce calcium deposition:
Minocycline can be used in reduction of the formation of calcium deposits under the skin. This drug is not so effective, but it can be used to reduce calcinosis or calcification of the digits. It also has severe side effects, which can be dangerous in case of scleroderma. This drug causes heartburn, and problems in the esophagus, which is already a problem with scleroderma patients. So, before using this drug, make sure that you are not sensate to it. There are various other complications such as diarrhea, constipation, etc. caused due to this medication.
Medications to reduce inflammation:
Colchicine can also be used to reduce the inflammation caused in case of calcinosis. These anti-inflammatory drugs should not be used in case of pregnant women. These drugs cause complications during delivery and may increase bleeding caused during delivery, as they affect production of amniotic fluid in the body while parturition.
Surgical methods to remove calcium deposits:
Surgical method is also opted for scleroderma calcinosis, which is causing severe pain and infections. The calcium deposits underneath the skin are removed surgically in this case. Not all the deposits can be removed at once, as these deposits are shapeless.
There are no drugs which can treat scleroderma completely, but we can use some drugs, and preventive methods to treat the symptoms that are caused in scleroderma. These drugs help reduce the progressiveness of the disease. Scleroderma symptoms are very severe during the first two to three years of the disease. Scleroderma calcinosis is one of the symptoms that the doctor uses to identify the existence of the disease.