Natural Remedies for Scleroderma

Scleroderma is a medical term for a disease that causes hardening and thickening of the skin or the connective tissues (the fibers that support your skin and internal organs).

There are two main types of scleroderma: localized and systemic. While localized scleroderma only affects your skin, systemic scleroderma affects not only your skin but also your blood vessels and internal organs (such as your heart and lungs).

A pair of hands with scleroderma
Ryan McVay / The Image Bank / Getty Images

Natural Remedies for Scleroderma

There's little scientific evidence to support the use of alternative medicine in the treatment of scleroderma. However, the following remedies may be useful for individuals looking to manage this condition.

Vitamin D

A 2016 study of 51 patients determined that low levels of vitamin D frequently occur in systemic sclerosis. The authors concluded that poor vitamin status seems to be linked to a more aggressive disease with multivisceral and severe organ involvement, particularly of the lungs and heart.

If you're coping with systemic scleroderma, consult your healthcare providerr to determine an appropriate daily dosage of vitamin D (a nutrient thought to help regulate the immune system).

Vitamin E

Topical application of vitamin E gel may reduce healing time and soothe pain in people with digital ulcers caused by systemic scleroderma, according to a 2009 study of 27 patients.

Past research suggests that vitamin E may have antifibrotic action and help to curb the buildup of excess tissue.

Symptoms of Scleroderma 

Morphea (one type of localized scleroderma) is marked by oval-shaped, thickened patches of skin that are white in the center and have a purple border.

Linear scleroderma (the other type of localized scleroderma) is marked by bands or streaks of hardened skin on the arms, legs or forehead. In people with systemic scleroderma, symptoms vary depending on the bodily area affected by the disorder.

Scleroderma also may produce the following symptoms:

What Causes It?

The exact cause of scleroderma is unknown. However, it's thought that abnormal activity in the immune system causes cells to overproduce collagen, which in turn causes connective tissue to build up. For that reason, it is known as an autoimmune disease, meaning a disease of the immune system.

Certain factors may increase your scleroderma risk. These include:

  • Being female
  • Exposure to silica dust and certain industrial solvents (such as paint thinners)
  • Undergoing a certain form of chemotherapy (bleomycin)
  • African-Americans and certain groups of Native Americans (including Choctaw Native Americans in Oklahoma) also appear to be at an increased risk for scleroderma or its complications

Other Treatment Options

Since scleroderma can lead to life-threatening complications (such as severe damage to the heart, lungs, and kidneys), it's important to seek medical attention if you show signs of this disorder.

Although at present time there's no way to halt the overproduction of collagen and cure scleroderma, certain medical treatments can help manage symptoms and limit damage. Treatment depends on the affected areas and may include the use of medication, surgery, and/or physical therapy.​

6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Groseanu L, Bojinca V, Gudu T, et al. Low vitamin D status in systemic sclerosis and the impact on disease phenotype. Eur J Rheumatol. 2016;3(2):50-55. doi:10.5152/eurjrheum.2015.0065

  2. Fiori G, Galluccio F, Braschi F, et al. Vitamin E gel reduces time of healing of digital ulcers in systemic sclerosis. Clin Exp Rheumatol; 27(3 Suppl 54):51-4.

  3. Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center. Morphea.

  4. MedlinePlus. Scleroderma.

  5. John Hopkins Scleroderma Center. Understanding scleroderma.

  6. Arnett FC, Howard RF, Tan F, et al. Increased prevalence of systemic sclerosis in a Native American tribe in Oklahoma. Association with an Amerindian HLA haplotype. Arthritis Rheum. 1996;39(8):1362-70. doi:10.1002/art.1780390814

By Cathy Wong
Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman's World, and Natural Health.