Causes and Diagnoses

Causes and Diagnoses of Scleroderma (Dermatological)

The exact cause of scleroderma is unknown, but it’s believed to be an autoimmune disease. Scleroderma causes the immune system to produce too much collagen (the protein that makes up the body's connective tissues, including the skin). What triggers the body to overproduce and accumulate collagen is still being researched.

Diagnosing scleroderma

A diagnosis of scleroderma begins with a physical exam and discussion of your symptoms. If necessary, your physician may order additional tests to determine if the scleroderma is systemic or localized. Tests may include:

  • Blood test: A sample of your blood may be tested to look for antibodies that indicate the type of scleroderma you may have.
  • X-ray: Traditional X-rays may be used to view joints and organs that are affected by scleroderma.
  • Electrocardiogram: This test shows abnormal heart rhythms caused by heart muscle damage.
  • Echocardiogram: This test uses sound waves to view the structure and function of the heart.

Diagnostic Tests