What causes systemic sclerosis (SSc)?

Updated: Apr 16, 2021
  • Author: Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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Systemic sclerosis is an autoimmunologic disease, but the pathogenesis is only partially understood. Certain factors are well known to trigger occurrence of the disease or create a similar clinical appearance. Environmental factors include exposure to the following:

  • Vibration injury (similar vascular changes)

  • Silica [3] : This may be an occupational disease in arc welders. [4]

  • Organic solvents (eg, toluene, benzene, xylene)

  • Aliphatic hydrocarbons (eg, hexane, vinyl chloride, trichloroethylene)

  • Epoxy resin

  • Amino acid compound L-5-hydroxytryptophan

  • Pesticides

  • Drugs (eg, bleomycin, carbidopa, pentazocine, cocaine, penicillamine, vitamin K): A limited form of cutaneous systemic sclerosis has been described with paclitaxel in with the setting of breast cancer. [5]

  • Appetite suppressants (eg, phenylethylamine derivatives)

  • Substances used in cosmetic procedures (eg, silicone or paraffin implants)

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