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Scleroderma (systemic sclerosis) is a connective tissue disorder that affects the skin and internal organs. 

It is characterised by hardening (fibrosis) of the skin and initially presents with Raynaud's phenomenon (colour changes in the hands, particularly in cold weather). 

Scleroderma can be classified as limited (affecting the skin below the elbow and knee) or diffuse (above and below the level of the elbow and knee).

Internal organ involvement can occur, and includes interstitial lung disease (scarring of the lungs), pulmonary hypertension (raised pressure in the artery between the heart and the lung) and kidney complications.

It is important to acknowledge that like most rheumatic conditions, scleroderma effects different people to varying degrees. Not all patients will suffer serious consequences. Regular monitoring by your specialist is important so that serious complications can be detected early.

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