What Is Skin Tightening?

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Skin tightening
concept of aging and skin care. face of young woman and an old woman with wrinkles

Skin tightening is also known as scleroderma. It is a group of rare diseases that involves the hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissues. This condition affects women more than men and it is most commonly happening between the ages of 30 and 50 [1]. There is no cure for this condition, but there are many different treatments that can help to ease the symptoms and also improve the quality of life of an affected person. There are different types of this condition.

skin tightening
skin tightening

In some cases, it can affect only the skin. But in most cases, scleroderma is also harming the structures beyond the skin, such as the digestive tract (systemic scleroderma), internal organs, and blood vessels. The signs and symptoms of this condition can vary which depends on the type of scleroderma that you have.

Skin Tightening:

Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of scleroderma can vary which depends on the part of your body that is affected:

  • Heart, lungs, or kidneys: This condition can affect the function of the heart, lungs, or kidneys to varying degrees. If these problems are left untreated, then they can become life-threatening. [2]
  • Skin: Almost every person who has scleroderma experiences a hardening and tightening of patches of the skin. These patches can be shaped like straight lines or like ovals or they can cover wide areas of the limbs and the trunk. The size, location, and a number of the patches can vary depending on the type of scleroderma that you have. Your skin can be shiny because it is so tight and the movement of the affected area may be restricted.
  • Digestive system: This condition can cause a variety of digestive symptoms which is depending on which parts of the digestive tract is affected. You may have heartburn or difficulty swallowing if the esophagus is affected. You might have constipation, diarrhea, bloating or cramps if the intestines are affected. Also, some people who have scleroderma may have problems absorbing nutrients if their intestinal muscles are not properly moving through the intestines. [3]
  • Fingers or toes: Raynaud’s disease is one of the earliest signs of systemic scleroderma and this is causing the small blood vessels in your fingers and toes to contract in response to cold temperatures or emotional distress. When this is happening, your fingers or toes may turn blue or feel painful or numb. Also, Raynaud’s disease is happening in people who do not have scleroderma.  [4]

Causes

This condition can result from an overproduction and accumulation of collagen in the body tissues. Collagen is a fibrous type of protein that makes up your body’s connective tissues, including your skin. Doctors do not know what exactly is causing the abnormal collagen production to begin. The body’s immune system appears to have a role. In most cases, scleroderma is caused by environmental triggers, genetics, and immune system problems.

Risk factors

Every single person can get this condition, but it does happen more often in women than men. There are several combined factors that appear to influence the risk of developing scleroderma, such as

  • Immune system problems: It is believed that scleroderma is an autoimmune disease. This means that it happens in part because the body’s immune system begins to attack the connective tissue. It is noticed that 15 – 20% of people who have skin tightening have also symptoms of another autoimmune disease, such as lupus, Sjorgen’s syndrome, and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Genetics: It is noticed that people who have certain gene variations appear to have more chances of developing scleroderma. This can explain why a small number of cases of skin tightening appear to run in families and why certain types of this condition are more common for certain ethnic groups. [5]
  • Environmental triggers: In some studies are said that the symptoms of this condition may be triggered by exposure to certain drugs, medications, or viruses. Also, the repeated exposure (such as at work) to certain harmful substances or chemicals can increase the risk of scleroderma. [6]

References:

[1] Johns Hopkins Medicine. Scleroderma risk factors. Retrieved from www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/scleroderma/scleroderma-risk-factors

[2] Champion HC. The heart in scleroderma. Rheumatic Disease Clinics of North America. 2008;34(1):181–viii. doi:10.1016/j.rdc.2007.12.002

[3] Zhu J, Frech T. Gut disease in systemic sclerosis – new approaches to common problems. Current Treatment Options in Rheumatology. 2019;5(1):11–9.
doi:10.1007/s40674-019-00117-x

[4] Temprano KK. A review of Raynaud’s disease. Missouri Medicine. 2016;113(2):123–6.

[5] National Organization for Rare Disorders. Rare disease database. Retrieved from rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/scleroderma/

[6] Rubio-Rivas M, Moreno R, Corbella X. Occupational and environmental scleroderma. Systematic review and meta-analysis. Clinical Rheumatology. 2017;36:569–82.

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