This disease affects not only the skin and underlying tissues, but also affects the blood vessels and major organs of the body. Two types of systemic disease are recognized: limited and diffuse.
Limited: In this form, skin thickening is generally limited to the fingers, forearms, legs, face and neck. Raynaud's phenomenon ( fingers turning blue or pale on cold exposure) may be present for years before any other symptoms develop. People with this form are less likely than people with diffuse disease to develop severe organ involvement.
Diffuse: In this form, skin thickening may occur everywhere on the body, including the trunk. Only a short interval of time will elapse between the onset of Raynaud's phenomenon and significant organ involvement. Damage typically occurs over the first three to five years, after which most patients enter a stable phase that varies in length. During this phase, your skin will stay about the same and the rate of damage to internal organs slows or stops. After the stable phase is over, your skin will start to soften and more serious damage to internal organs is unlikely to occur.