This information is provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD).
Morphea is a skin condition that causes patches of reddish skin that thicken into firm, oval-shaped areas. It is a form of scleroderma. Patches most often occur on the abdomen, stomach, and back, and sometimes on the face, arms and legs. Morphea is classified according to the localization of the lesions and the depth of tissue involvement into localized or circumscribed (limited to one or several patches) , generalized (spread over larger areas of the body), linear (with linear lesions involving the outer skin and deeper layers), and pansclerotic (that involves not just the outer skin but the deeper layers, and sometimes the bone underneath, and also restricts movement of the joints). The underlying cause of morphea is unknown. It may be associated with an abnormal immune response, or be triggered by radiation therapy, repeated trauma to the affected area, or a recent infection. It usually goes away without treatment within 3 to 5 years, but some people are left with darkened areas of skin or rarely muscle weakness. Treatment may be used to control symptoms until it resolves, and may include phototherapy, prescription vitamin D creams, or corticosteroids.
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