CREST syndrome or limited scleroderma is an autoimmune disease affecting the connective tissue. Connecting tissue is the link between cells that binds them together. It is found all over your body, in the skin and in all your organs. This illness is quite severe that it would usually affect a lot of organs including the skin at the same time. Limited scleroderma would not only affect the skin but could work on a number of organs at the same time.
Limited scleroderma is very broad and the symptoms suffered by its patients would vary accordingly. For some, limited scleroderma would be very minor, although it can disable an individual and for others, it could be life changing and even fatal in some cases. As of now, this disease has no known cause. Treatments that are done for this is for managing symptoms and preventing it from complicating and not attempting to entirely remove the disease from the patient.
How Do You Know You Have It?
Crest has a distinct set of symptoms and with that, you would be easily able to identify if you have it with the presence of some symptoms. The first symptom is calcinosis which is the development of calcium deposits under the skin mainly on the fingers, knees and elbows. You can easily feel and see these deposits as the affected area is discolored and tender. These deposits can also form in the spine and on the legs.
Another visible symptom is known as Raynaud’s phenomenon, this which causes numbness, pain and discoloration in the fingers. This symptom is common among those who all types of scleroderma as it occurs to them at 95% of all cases. This is also usually the first symptom that would come out. Raynaud’s phenomenon mainly affects the blood vessels spasm having them limit blood flow that would result to the symptoms.
While Raynaud’s and calcinosis are the two most common symptoms of CREST, severe cases would show different symptoms. People with limited scleroderma could also experience esophageal dysfunction since blood flow is limited to the esophagus, also limiting its function. Another is sclerodactyly which is characterized by thick and hard skin similar to scar tissue. This can occur anywhere from the hands, chest, face and abdomen.
Another symptom of which people with scleroderma can suffer is telangiectansia which is a collection of blood vessels on the surface of the skin which would appear as red marks. People with limited scleroderma could also have limited lung activity, high blood pressure and other autoimmune diseases such as lupus and polymyositis.
What Causes It?
While there is no proven cause of scleroderma yet, medical experts refer to reliable theories that refer to very possible causes of it. One theory is that limited scleroderma is genetic and that genetic defects would make people more susceptible to scleroderma. Another is hormones, this of which medical experts think could be the reason why females are more susceptible than males and environmental influences such as viruses or bacteria that may cause it.
Another theory is that pregnancy can cause it. The fetal matter that is left over after pregnancy that still circulates in the mother’s bloodstream can cause scleroderma even after decades after pregnancy, this theory has been aligned with the statistics that the common patients for scleroderma are women between the ages 30 and 60.
All of these theories however have not been proven and the cause for scleroderma still remains unknown.