Scleroderma pp 713-721 | Cite as

Coping with the Disfigurement of Scleroderma: Facial, Skin, and Hand Changes

  • Shadi Gholizadeh
  • Rina S. Fox
  • Sarah D. Mills
  • Lisa R. Jewett
  • Brett D. Thombs
  • Vanessa L. Malcarne


Changes in appearance are a common and distressing aspect of scleroderma. Disfigurement in scleroderma often occurs in areas of the body that are both visible and socially relevant (e.g., face, hands), which can contribute to increased social anxiety and avoidance. A case study is provided to share examples of common concerns and challenges associated with treating patients with scleroderma who are experiencing body image distress; social, self-esteem, mood, and sexual impacts of body image distress are also discussed.The presence of significant body image is not always associated with severity of appearance changes, and open communication around changes in appearance is important. Referrals to mental health professionals should be initiated as appropriate.


Body image Distress Appearance changes Disfigurement Quality of life Interventions 



This work was supported by a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR; #TR3-267681). Ms. Jewett was supported by a CIHR Doctoral Research Award. Dr. Thombs was supported by an Investigator Salary Award from the Arthritis Society.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shadi Gholizadeh
    • 1
  • Rina S. Fox
    • 1
  • Sarah D. Mills
    • 1
  • Lisa R. Jewett
    • 2
  • Brett D. Thombs
    • 2
  • Vanessa L. Malcarne
    • 1
  1. 1.SDSU/UC San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical PsychologySan DiegoUSA
  2. 2.Lady Davis Institute for Medical ResearchMcGill University and Jewish General HospitalMontrealCanada

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