What are the signs and symptoms of sclerodactyly in CREST syndrome?

Updated: Oct 05, 2020
  • Author: Jeanie C Yoon, MD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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Sclerodactyly means thickening of the skin of the digits of the hands and feet. Three phases of skin changes are seen in scleroderma: the edematous phase, indurative phase, and atrophic phase.

Patients with early scleroderma present with puffy edema in the fingers and may report morning stiffness or arthralgias. The edematous phase is usually short (ie, months, but occasionally years).

In the indurative phase, the skin becomes thickened. Patients may report pruritus. The skin appears shiny and tight. Skin creases are lost. Erythema may be present. In limited scleroderma, this process continues slowly for many years.

Late in the course of scleroderma, the skin becomes fragile and lax as it enters the atrophic phase.

Patients with limited scleroderma find that the advancement of skin disease occurs slowly, over many years. By definition, skin involvement remains distal to the elbows and knees, although it can involve the face and neck.

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