About ten years ago, my problem started with what I thought was a bruise about the size of a dime under my arm. At first I was told it was a fungus and given cream to treat it, but it did not work. The purplish spot began to get bigger, turning white in the middle. I went to several doctors, one of whom simply said it might be scleroderma and sent me on my way. I was horrified! I thought for sure I was going to die!
Then I found a dermatologist who did a biopsy and said it was morphea scleroderma. She explained that it is caused by a buildup of collagen under the surface of the skin, which causes discoloration and hardening of the skin. She also told me that morphea stays at the surface of the skin and does not affect the organs or cause death. She said that usually morphea would lighten and sometimes even disappear in a couple of years.
She started injecting steroids into the hardened area to soften it. Once the spot was softened, she tried to get rid of the dark color. First, we used a roll-on preparation, but that did not work. Next, we tried the patches, but they only irritated my skin, making it red and very painful. We finally gave up and agreed to let nature take its course, hoping the discolored area would indeed disappear in a couple of years.
Now, ten years later, I have an enormous bruise-like thing under my arm that has also spread near my right breast. Another patch stretches about six inches across my lower back. I jokingly refer to this as my 'Catalina scar.' In case you are unfamiliar with it, Catalina is an island off the coast of Southern California.
Recently, I have noticed the entire underside of my right arm is starting to discolor. Other than the disturbing appearance, the only thing I am bothered with is incessant itching.
I was hoping that after ten years someone might have found a cure or at least a way to stop the discoloration. I am not finding anything.
Email: [email protected]
Story posted 4-25-01
Story edited VH1: JTD 8-25-03
Story Artist: Shelley Ensz
Story Editor V1: Judith Devlin
Voices of Scleroderma Volume 1
The story on this page is featured in the top-notch Voices of Scleroderma Volume 1 which features articles by top scleroderma experts, including Dr. Joseph Korn, as well as 100 true patient and caregiver stories from this website! The book delivers excellent information and support for scleroderma patients and caregivers. It's a great way to inform family and friends about scleroderma, too!
SCLERO.ORG was the world's leading nonprofit for trustworthy research, support, education and awareness for scleroderma and related illnesses from 1998 to 2021. It was a grassroots movement from the original Scleroderma from A to Z web site, which was founded by Shelley Ensz. We were a 501(c)(3) U.S.-based public charitable foundation. We closed this web site and our nonprofit agency in April 2021.