Systemic sclerosis in adults. Part II: management and therapeutics

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2022 Nov;87(5):957-978. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2021.10.066. Epub 2022 Feb 4.


The management of systemic sclerosis (SSc) is complex, evolving, and requires a multidisciplinary approach. At diagnosis and throughout the disease course, clinical assessment and monitoring of skin involvement is vital using the modified Rodnan Skin Score, patient-reported outcomes, and new global composite scores (such as the Combined Response Index for Systemic Sclerosis, which also considers lung function). Immunomodulation is the mainstay of skin fibrosis treatment, with mycophenolate mofetil considered first line. Meanwhile vasculopathy-related manifestations (Raynaud's phenomenon, digital ulcers) and calcinosis, require general measures combined with specific pharmacologic (calcium-channel blockers, phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors, and prostanoids), nonpharmacologic (digital sympathectomy and botulinum toxin injections), and often multifaceted, management approaches. Patients should be screened at the time of diagnosis specifically for systemic manifestations and then regularly thereafter, with appropriate treatment. Numerous targeted therapeutic options for SSc, including skin fibrosis, are emerging and include B-cell depletion, anti-interleukin 6, Janus kinase, and transforming growth factor β inhibition. This second article in the continuing medical education series discusses these key aspects of SSc assessment and treatment, with particular focus on skin involvement. It is vital that dermatologists play a key role in the multidisciplinary approach to SSc management.

Keywords: Raynaud's phenomenon; calcinocic cutis; digital ulcers; management; systemic sclerosis; treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Botulinum Toxins* / therapeutic use
  • Calcium / therapeutic use
  • Fibrosis
  • Humans
  • Janus Kinases
  • Mycophenolic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Phosphodiesterase 5 Inhibitors
  • Prostaglandins / therapeutic use
  • Raynaud Disease* / drug therapy
  • Scleroderma, Systemic* / diagnosis
  • Scleroderma, Systemic* / therapy
  • Skin Ulcer* / drug therapy
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta


  • Phosphodiesterase 5 Inhibitors
  • Prostaglandins
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Janus Kinases
  • Botulinum Toxins
  • Mycophenolic Acid
  • Calcium