Morphea: What you should know

Morphea is a rare type of skin disease that results in hardening and decoloration of skin areas.

These plaques may appear in many places, including the hands, feet, back, and chest, including the face and neck. In the legs and arms, Morphea can also appear. It affects less than 3 out of every 100,000 persons.

Morphea is typically painless and can fade on its own, although it can take many years for this to happen. And after it has gone away, the condition will still return. It seems to be particularly problematic when it affects cosmetically sensitive areas, the face, and the joints.

Causes of morphea

Causes of morphea
Morphea causes patches of skin to harden or become discolored.

Morphea is considered by most health providers to be an uncommon autoimmune disease in which dysfunction of the immune system occurs and causes typical skin symptoms.

The actual cause of the disorder is uncertain, however, and remains unexplained.

The collagen-producing cells overproduce collagen as morphea happens, allowing it to build up and to harden the skin.

There is much to learn about morphea, but its onset could be related to:

  • repeated trauma to the skin
  • aggressive treatments, such as radiation therapy
  • an infection
  • skin damage caused by environmental exposure

Morphea is not an infectious disorder and does not spread from individual to individual.

Symptoms

Morphea signs vary depending on the stage and severity of the disease.

Some common signs and symptoms include:

  • patches of reddish or lilac skin, most commonly on the torso
  • linear patches of discolored skin on the arms or legs
  • patches of skin that gradually turn lighter or have a whitish center
  • patches of skin that gradually harden and have a thick, shiny appearance
  • hair loss in the affected area
  • loss of sweat glands in the affected area

Morphea typically only affects the skin and its underlying tissue, although bone and muscle may also be affected.

Types of morphea

A lady consulting her doctor
Although some types of morphea are painless, some are more serious, which makes an early diagnosis important.

There are several types of morphea:

Plaque morphea

Typically, plaque morphea consists of restricted oval lesions that occur on the skin. The lesions are typically painless but may become itchy.

The most prevalent type of morphea is plaque morphea.

Plaque morphea generalized

Generalized plaque morphea is more widespread than plaque morphea. There would be more lesions over a larger region of skin in a person with generalized plaque morphea. Deeper tissues may also be damaged, eventually leading to facial disfigurement and lesions binding together.

Pansclerotic morphea

This type of morphea appears to require aggressive treatment and is rare. Pansclerotic morphea happens when almost all of the body is surrounded with lesions. It progresses rapidly, and to try to control it, medical attention is required. It normally begins with kids.

Linear morphea

On the arms or legs, Linear morphea typically develops and presents as a single band of thick, discolored tissue. The lesions, as well as the muscles and bone, will cross joints and spread to the tissue under the skin. This can relate to deformities.

Linear morphea often occurs as a line on the forehead that may cause eyesight problems or lead to neurological disorders. This type of morphea is more likely to influence children aged in school.

Diagnosis

It is important to obtain medical attention as soon as possible if a person experiences any skin changes, such as the appearance of stiff, thickening, or purple-reddish patches.

A dermatologist or a specialist who specializes in skin disorders may be recommended by a specialist. A rheumatologist, or a doctor specialized in joints, bones, and muscles, can also be seen.

By doing a physical exam, dermatologists will usually diagnose the condition, although they can generally validate it by doing a skin biopsy.

Risk factors and complications

Morphea in women is more likely to occur than in men.

While it may affect both adults and infants, in children aged 2-14 and in adults in their mid-40s, doctors normally diagnosis morphea.

Complications of morphea include:

  • restricted joint mobility
  • pain in the joints
  • cosmetic abnormalities, which may lead to low self-esteem
  • permanent eye problems or neurological involvement, though this is rare
  • hair loss in the affected area
  • genital lichen sclerosis, an associated condition that can cause itching and burning

Treatment

moisturizing the skin
Vitamin D cream may help treat morphea. Regularly moisturizing the skin with nonfragranced products may also help.

While there is no remedy for morphea at present, several therapies are available that can help prevent it from spreading and causing scarring and complications.

Treatment depends on the severity of the morphea and its form. Such possibilities include:

  • Phototherapy. This is a generic term that refers to light therapy for skin conditions. Practitioners commonly perform phototherapy using the ultraviolet A wavelength for morphea treatment.
  • Calcipotriene (Dovonex). This is a type of vitamin D cream.
  • Topical or intralesional steroids.

For certain cases, oral medication, such as methotrexate or corticosteroids, can be administered by a doctor. They can consider physical therapy as well.

When an infant has narcotics on his brain, he or she will need to see an eye doctor and a neurologist on a daily basis.

Outloo

Morphea is a rare condition of the skin that typically affects only the appearance of the skin and goes away without treatment.

Morphea, however, can cause mobility problems or deformities in more serious situations.

Morphea can cause eye damage in children and problems with limb growth and movement.

To guarantee that they get adequate care and guidance for how to handle the disease, anybody who feels they might have morphea should seek medical advice.

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