On average, 300,000 people in the US have scleroderma. Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease with symptoms similar to many other conditions, making it difficult to diagnose.
But scleroderma is very treatable if caught early. A scleroderma test is an essential diagnostic tool in this process. If you're considering a test for scleroderma and feeling nervous, then we've got you covered.
So if you're wondering about scleroderma and scleroderma tests, then keep reading this guide to find everything you need to know.
What is Scleroderma?
Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease that affects your skin, connective tissue, and organs. Scleroderma occurs when your immune system goes a little haywire and produces too much protein collagen.
Since scleroderma happens due to your immune system, you can't catch it from anyone else. There isn't a cure for scleroderma, but there are effective treatments that can improve your symptoms and your life.
Types of Scleroderma
There are two types of scleroderma, localized and systemic scleroderma. Localized scleroderma has two main types, and the first is Morphea. With Morphea, you'll notice hardened oval patches on your skin that start reddish-purple with white centers.
The next type of localized scleroderma is linear scleroderma. Linear scleroderma has lines and streaks of thickened skin on your arms and legs.
The next type, systemic scleroderma, is the most common. It's also referred to as generalized scleroderma, and there are two types of this.
The first is limited scleroderma which comes on slowly, first affecting the skin on your hands, feet, and face. It also causes damage to your intestines, esophagus, and lungs. Limited scleroderma is also called CREST syndrome, abbreviated to represent the common signs.
The next type of systemic scleroderma is diffuse scleroderma. Diffuse scleroderma starts quickly. The skin in your abdomen, thighs, arms, hands becomes thick, and after this affects your heart, lungs, digestive tract, and kidneys.
Risk Factors for Scleroderma
Anybody is at risk for developing scleroderma, but it mostly happens in people between 35 and 55. Women also tend to get scleroderma more often.
It's thought genetic changes, a family history of autoimmune disease and environmental triggers all play a part.
Causes of Scleroderma
Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease that affects your skin and organs, but doctors don't know the exact cause.
Symptoms and Signs of Scleroderma
Symptoms and signs of scleroderma can vary and affect different parts of your body. But you'll likely see symptoms such as:
- Hardened skin
- Thick patches and appear shiny and smooth
- Decreased blood flow to your extremities or Raynaud's Phenomenon
- Sores on the ends of your fingers
- Trouble swallowing
- Painful joints
- Joint swelling
- Small red spots on your chest
- Swelling of your hands and fingers
Severe and ongoing scleroderma symptoms can cause complications like scar tissue in your lungs, loss of blood flow to your toes and fingers, and severe muscle inflammation. In some cases, you can even experience kidney, lung, or heart failure.
Treatment for Scleroderma
There is no cure or medication available to stop the overproduction of collagen in scleroderma. But many drugs can prevent complications and relieve your symptoms.
Steroid creams are often used to treat skin changes and reduce swelling. Medications to suppress the immune system, ease digestive symptoms, and prevent infections are also used.
Many people take over-the-counter pain relievers or prescription pain relievers as needed. Physical and occupational therapy is beneficial and allows people to manage pain, improve strength, and maintain their independence.
Sometimes surgery is necessary for complications of scleroderma such as amputation of severely affected limbs or organ transplants.
If your doctor is concerned you may have scleroderma; they will start by asking you about your personal and family health history. It typically takes a series of scleroderma tests to understand the entire picture.
Scleroderma tests involve a combination of blood tests and x-rays. Doctors will also often order lung function tests and heart function tests like EKGs and echocardiograms.
A biopsy of the affected areas on your skin is often done so a specialist can closely examine the affected areas.
Scleroderma Lab Testing
No one lab test can diagnose scleroderma alone. But there are standard lab tests that help get you going in the correct diagnostic direction.
You can easily order high-quality scleroderma testing at Ulta Lab Tests. Ulta Lab Tests offers the Scleroderma Antibody test (Scl-70), which is a simple way to detect if scleroderma antibodies are present in your blood. The Scl-70 antibody occurs in about 40% of people with systemic scleroderma.
Next is the Antinuclear antibodies (ANA) test. Over 95% of people with scleroderma will test positive for ANA, with an apparent speckled pattern visible under the microscope.
The Centromere antibody (ACA) test is a test that helps detect antibodies in over 50% of people with CREST syndrome scleroderma symptoms.
General blood tests like a complete blood count and comprehensive metabolic panel are usually also ordered to check overall health.
Here are some important scleroderma facts to know that will help you through the diagnostic and testing process.
- The first description of scleroderma was in the 1700s by an Italian doctor named Carlo Curzio
- Scleroderma is very different from one person to the other
- It's essential to keep exercising with scleroderma
- Eating foods that are easier to digest can help scleroderma symptoms
- Often heartburn and Raynaud's are the first signs of scleroderma
Remember, although scleroderma isn't curable, it is very treatable!
Your Scleroderma Test
Choose Ulta Lab Tests for your scleroderma test needs. Ulta Lab Tests offers tests that are highly accurate reliable and allow you to make the best health decisions for yourself.
The best part is you don't need insurance or a referral either. Our affordable pricing includes a doctor's order, so you never have to go it alone.
We will work to make sure you're 100% satisfied and informed about your blood test results.
Most scleroderma lab test results are available within 24 to 48 hours. You can review your results confidentially and securely.
Take charge of your health, get tested and track your progress with Ulta Lab Tests.