Medical Definition of Scleredema

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Scleredema: A dermatologic disorder characterized by hardening and thickening of the skin, typically over the face, neck, upper back, and shoulders or other areas of skin, but not over the hands or feet. Scleredema comes from scler- (hard) + edema (swelling). Scleredema should not be confused with scleroderma which is a distinct and different disease.

The majority (about two-thirds) of cases of scleredema occur in people with diabetes, usually long-standing difficult-to-control diabetes, mainly men (10 men to each woman). A minority (about a quarter) of cases of scleredema occur after an infection (often a strep throat) in younger people, females more often than males. About half of these cases resolve spontaneously within 2 years.

Scleredema is also called Buschke's scleredema or Buschke disease, after the German dermatologist Abraham Buschke (1868-1943) who described it (and died in the Theresienstadt concentration camp). The disease is also called scleredema adultorum (although it can occur in children, too).

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Reviewed on 12/21/2018

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