Do you have hardened patches of whitish skin on your arms and legs? Do you suffer from breathlessness or excessively dry eyes? Then you probably might be suffering from a condition called scleroderma.
Scleroderma is one medical condition that may manifest in many forms and has no known causes. But it can be quite an agonizing condition.
So, are there any simple home remedies that can give one respite from this condition? You bet there are! And check out this post to know them!
What Is Scleroderma?
Scleroderma is a systemic autoimmune disease, which usually causes hardening (sclero) of the skin (derma). The treatment for scleroderma attempts to alleviate its symptoms.
Collagen is a fibrous tissue that usually forms most of the body’s connected tissues, including the skin. Scleroderma usually occurs when the body overproduces collagen. The excessive collagen tightens and thickens the skin and scars the lungs and kidneys. It can even lead to the thickening and malfunctioning of blood vessels. It can in turn cause hypertension and tissue damage (1).
Types Of Scleroderma:
Scleroderma is essentially an autoimmune disorder, which manifests itself in several forms. Essentially, there are two types of scleroderma:
1. Localized Scleroderma:
Localized scleroderma usually affects the skin. It may appear in the following forms:
- Morphea: It causes hard, oval patches on your skin. These patches are usually red or purple, and they soon turn white in the center. In rare cases, this type of scleroderma can affect the blood vessels or internal organs.
- Linear: Long lines or streaks of hardened or thickened skin, on the arms, face or legs characterize it.
2. Systemic Scleroderma:
Systemic scleroderma or generalized scleroderma affects other body parts apart from skin. There are two forms of systemic scleroderma:
- Limited Scleroderma: It has a slow onset and initially affects the face, hands, feet and the skin. It also damages internal organs like the esophagus, intestines and lungs. In fact, doctors refer to this manifestation of limited scleroderma as CREST syndrome. It also affects blood pressure and leads to irregular heartbeat. It is a chronic autoimmune disorder, but medication can provide relief from pain and inflammation.
- Diffuse Scleroderma: Diffuse scleroderma is the other form of generalized scleroderma. It results in hardening and thickening of the skin in the middle of the body. Therefore, it affects the upper arms, hands, thighs, lungs, kidney and even the gastrointestinal tract (2).
Causes Of Scleroderma:
Scleroderma is an autoimmune disorder, and medical research is yet to ascertain its cause. Your body’s immune system turns against you, triggering inflammation and collagen overproduction. Scleroderma may also be a genetic disease. Exposure to building material, silica, sand, cement or welding fumes can also trigger the disease (3).
Symptoms Of Scleroderma:
Hardened skin patches, characterize this disease. Here are some other symptoms associated with scleroderma:
- Thick skin that appears smooth and shiny. These hardened skin patches usually occur on the hands and the face.
- Ulcers and pustules on fingertips
- Raynaud’s phenomenon results in cold fingers or red, white or blue colored toes
- Telangiectasias is the appearance of red spots on the face and the chest. In fact, these spots are open blood vessels.
- Sjogren’s syndrome results in excessive dryness of the mouth and eyes.
- Inflammation and swelling on hands, fingers and toes.
- Painful or swollen joints
- Weak muscles
- Acidity and Heartburn
- Weight Loss (4)
[ Read: Home Remedies To Treat Muscle Weakness ]
Home Remedies For Scleroderma:
Let us take a look at some simple home remedies that may relieve the symptoms of this chronic illness.
One of the best natural remedies for alleviating scleroderma is garlic. You should avoid the intake of garlic if you have scleroderma. Thus, only the topical application of garlic is advisable. It helps soften the skin.
Cut one garlic clove into three medium pieces. Apply each of the three pieces to affected areas on the skin. Rub these pieces on the patches for half an hour. Alternatively, you can use a cotton ball, dip it in garlic oil and apply it to the affected area. You can also prepare garlic tea, and use a cloth to apply that on the skin. To prepare garlic tea, boil a few garlic cloves in water and brew the mixture (5).
Use onion only as a topical application for scleroderma. Your doctor may ask you to avoid eating onions if you are suffering from scleroderma (6).
To use onion to soften the hardened and toughened skin patches, cut it into half and apply it directly on the affected skin. Massage the onion vigorously on the patches for 30 minutes every day. Alternatively, you can squash some onions, drain the juice in a pan and use a cotton ball or cloth to apply it.
3. Gram Flour:
Another effective remedy for scleroderma is gram flour. The yellow powder may look ordinary, but it may work wonders on your patchy skin. Gram flour has many antioxidants, and it can help make the tough skin supple again. Add one cup of gram flour to a bowl of water. Whisk the mixture well, until it forms a fine paste. Now, take a cotton ball or cloth, drop it in a bowl. Once the cotton soaks some of the paste, take the remaining paste and apply it on the affected areas. Now use the cotton ball and massage the thick spots for some time. For best results, remember to do this twice every day. You can also directly use gram flour on the affected skin. Remember to massage it gently with your fingertips.
Another great home remedy for scleroderma is lemon. You can safely apply lemon directly on the site of the disease. You should do this for 10-15 minutes thrice a day. You can also squeeze some lemon juice in a bowl. Add some honey and mix well. Dip a cotton ball in the mixture and apply it on the patchy skin. Lemon helps eliminate free radicals while honey is a natural emollient. Using the mix will soften the hardened patches.
Turmeric is one of the best natural remedies for scleroderma. Add two teaspoons of turmeric to a cup of water and mix well until it forms a paste. Dip a cotton ball in the paste and apply it on the site of scleroderma for 20-25 minutes every day. As the turmeric paste can leave some stains, you can also consider using turmeric powder directly. Turmeric helps eliminate free radicals from the body. You can also ingest turmeric to treat scleroderma. Mix some turmeric in a glass of milk or water and have it twice a day.
Spinach is one of the richest sources of iron, folate, phosphorous and vitamin E. It is also full of phytonutrients, which provide energy directly to the cells and boost immunity. Remember to eat two cups of spinach every day, raw or steamed. If you do not like the strong flavor of spinach, you can add vegetables like carrot or tomato to enhance its taste and enjoy its goodness.
7. Cottage Cheese:
Cottage Cheese or Paneer is a rich source of sulfur protein. It induces a chemical reaction, which makes oil water-soluble. Therefore, it aids digestion and increases the pace of absorption by the cell membranes. Cottage cheese thus helps increase the energy level in the cells. For best results, eat two servings of cottage cheese every day. However, steer clear from those oily recipes and stick to the intake of cheese salads.
8. Fish Oil:
Fish oil is the richest source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids have strong antioxidant properties that flush free radicals out of the system and help detoxify the body. These antioxidants also fight microbes and ensure the proper functioning of the immune system. You can take a couple of fish oil capsules every day to get relief from the scaly patches. Include salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna in your diet, as they are especially rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Scleroderma leads to digestion problems. Constipation, diarrhea, bloating, difficulty in swallowing and heartburn are just some of the symptoms of scleroderma. Ginger is a great antibiotic, antioxidant and antimicrobial agent, which fights bad fats. It also boosts immunity. Finely chop ginger and add it to a cup of boiling water. Stir for a couple of minutes and turn off the flame. Wait for 15 minutes. Strain the tea into a cup and enjoy a warm cup of ginger tea. Drink around 4-5 cups of ginger tea every day.
10. Physical Activity:
Physical activity is what keeps you healthy, energetic and ready to take on the world. It also helps increase blood circulation and relieves stiffness in limbs. Exercising is one of the best ways of keeping scleroderma at bay.
11. Say No To Smoking:
For those of you who don’t smoke, stay well away from people who do. Smoking causes the blood vessels to shrink permanently and increases the threat of scleroderma. Even passive smoking leads to this condition.
12. Avoid Heavy Foods:
Scleroderma causes havoc in the digestive tract. The best way to keep the symptoms under control is by watching what you eat. Avoid late-night dinners, heavy foods that create gas or acidity. Prop extra pillows under your head when you sleep to avoid acid reflux. You can also consider using antacids.
13. Wrap Yourself Up:
Cold can often compound the effects of scleroderma, and you should remember to keep warm at all times. Wear gloves when outside and cover your extremities, the head, arms and legs well (7).
14. Protect Skin:
Scleroderma is essentially a disease, which primarily affects the skin. So, remember to keep your skin protected. The excess collagen can destroy sweat and oil glands, ruining the skin’s balance. Do not use harsh soaps and detergents.
15. Oral Hygiene:
One of the main symptoms of scleroderma is a dry mouth. Make sure you drink plenty of water. If your mouth continues to remain dry, visit a dentist. Go for regular dental checkups to prevent this disease.
We know that scleroderma has no known cures. Doctors focus the treatment on relieving the patients from its painful symptoms.
If you know someone who is suffering from scleroderma, tell him about these simple home remedies. Do let us know if these scleroderma home remedies helped him get some relief from its symptoms. We look forward to hearing back from you!
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