Scleroderma / Systemic Sclerosis (SSC) Make an Appointment Find a Doctor Ask a Question Reviewed by Dr. Fischer, Mehrnaz Maleki, MD (September 01, 2019) Scleroderma (also called systemic sclerosis or SSC) is a rare disease characterized most often by skin thickening. Scleroderma also may involve internal organs. This often leads to intestinal, kidney, lung and heart problems. Scleroderma that affects other organs may be referred to as CREST syndrome. It is a chronic disease, which means it lasts a long time. Limited Cutaneous Disease (scleroderma affecting the skin) Limited cutaneous scleroderma is characterized by skin sclerosis or thickening. The sclerosis is restricted to the hands, fingers and, to a lesser extent, the face and neck. People with limited cutaneous scleroderma are less likely to develop lung disease. The lung disease often seen with scleroderma is called interstitial lung disease (ILD). When scleroderma is restricted to the hands, ILD often does not occur early in the course of disease. ILD may develop later in the disease process. Diffuse Cutaneous Disease (scleroderma affecting the skin) Diffuse cutaneous scleroderma is characterized by extensive skin sclerosis or thickening. The sclerosis involves the arms, legs and torso. It often spares the upper back. People with diffuse cutaneous scleroderma are at an increased risk of developing ILD early in the course of their disease. Programs & Services Scleroderma Program Clinical Trials For more than 100 years, National Jewish Health has been committed to finding new treatments and cures for diseases. Search our clinical trials.