Acute exacerbation of systemic scleroderma in Borrelia burgdorferi infection

J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2005 Jan;19(1):93-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-3083.2004.01074.x.


In recent years a possible aetiological connection between skin sclerosis and an infection with Borrelia burgdorferi has been discussed, but this association has not yet been reported for systemic scleroderma. Several treatment modalities are suggested for systemic scleroderma, but no treatment has yet been found to alter the overall course of the disease. This report describes a 61-year-old woman with Raynaud's phenomenon, nail-fold changes and circulating anticentromere antibodies, who showed an abrupt onset of erythemas and doughy swellings involving the face and upper trunk, followed by thickening and induration of the skin mimicking diffuse systemic scleroderma. Laboratory tests including enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), immunoblot and urine polymerase chain reaction (PCR) showed an infection with B. burgdorferi sensu lato that was successfully treated with intravenous ceftriaxone, an antibiotic recommended for Lyme borreliosis. Fourteen days after the end of treatment the skin was no longer stiff and indurated and had returned to its normal predisease state. This case suggests that Lyme disease should be considered in atypical cases of skin sclerosis in patients predisposed to the development of systemic scleroderma.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Ceftriaxone / therapeutic use
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lyme Disease / complications*
  • Lyme Disease / diagnosis
  • Lyme Disease / drug therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / complications*
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / diagnosis


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Ceftriaxone