A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.

It is possible to develop scleroderma with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing scleroderma. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.

Factors that can increase your risk of developing scleroderma include:

Age

The morphea type of scleroderma usually strikes people around 20-40 years old. Linear scleroderma often occurs in children. Systemic scleroderma, limited or diffuse, is more likely to occur in people aged 30-50 years old.

Gender

Women are 3-4 times more likely as men to develop scleroderma.

Genetic Factors

People who have family members with autoimmune diseases have an increased likelihood of developing scleroderma.

Ethnic Background

Young African-American women have a higher rate of systemic scleroderma and tend to have more severe forms of the disease. People of European descent more often get the localized form.

Environmental Factors

A number of chemical exposures, like coal mining and gold mining, may increase the risk of scleroderma. Examples of occupational chemicals thought to increase the risk include:

  • Ketones
  • Silica
  • Epoxy resins
  • Welding fumes
  • Polyvinyl chlorides
  • Aromatic and chlorinated solvents
  • Toluene
  • Trichloroethylene

Revision Information

  • Diot E, Lesire V, et al. Systemic sclerosis and occupational risk factors: a case-control study. Occup Environ Med. 2002;59(8):545-549.

  • Systemic sclerosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us . Updated August 5, 2013. Accessed August 8, 2013.

  • Scleroderma. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health%5FInfo/Scleroderma/default.asp . Updated August 2012. Accessed August 8, 2013.

  • What is scleroderma? Scleroderma Foundation website. Available at: http://www.scleroderma.org/site/PageServer?pagename=patients%5Fwhatis . Accessed August 8, 2013.