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When Your Client Has Scleroderma—What Every Esthetician Should Know

By: Patricia Baker
Posted: July 30, 2013, from the August 2013 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

Sharon Monsky, founder of the Scleroderma Research Foundation, died from the disease in 2002. All photos courtesy of the Scleroderma Research Foundation, San Francisco.

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There are an estimated 350,000 people in the United States who have scleroderma, about one-third of whom have the systemic form. Since scleroderma presents with symptoms similar to other autoimmune diseases, diagnosis is challenging, and there may be many misdiagnosed or undiagnosed cases, as well. All three physicians agree that the relationship estheticians have with their clients can lead to an earlier diagnosis. If you notice a hardening and tightening of your client’s skin, telangiectasia that return after treatment, or telangiectasia on the palms or the mucous areas of the mouth, advise your client that they may need to be evaluated by a rheumatologist. In the case of scleroderma, an often difficult to diagnose disease, an informed esthetician can be the first line of defense—and perhaps even a life-saver.

At the present time, there is no cure for scleroderma, but there are medications available that treat symptoms. Some treatments are directed at decreasing the activity of the immune system. Clients with a mild form of the disease may not need medication at all and, occasionally, people can stop treatment when their scleroderma is no longer active. Because there is so much variation from one person to the next, there is great variation in the treatments prescribed.

Clinical trials for experimental treatments are ongoing, and there may be good news on the way for clients like Mary. Simms says that there are new treatments in the pipeline for scleroderma that may reverse the effects of the disease and have the potential to cure it altogether.

More Information About Scleroderma

For additional information about scleroderma, contact:

Scleroderma Foundation
300 Rosewood Drive, Suite 105
Danvers, MA 01923

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