Cause and Risk Factors for Scleroderma

The cause of scleroderma is unknown. A combination of factors (e.g., genetic, environmental) may contribute to development of the disease. Certain inherited antigens (cell markers), called human leukocyte antigens (HLA) are associated with an increased risk for scleroderma.

Environmental risk factors include exposure to silica dust (e.g., in coal and gold miners), exposure to certain chemicals (e.g., vinyl chloride, epoxy resin, pesticides) and solvents (e.g., benzene, toluene), and certain medications (e.g., carbidopa [medication used to treat Parkinson's disease], bleomycin [chemotherapy drug]).

Other risk factors for scleroderma include age (more common between the ages of 30 and 50), gender (more common in women), and diabetes.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 31 May 2006

Last Modified: 05 Oct 2015