Causes and Risk Factors
The exact cause of scleroderma is unknown. However, several factors are thought to influence risk, including environmental exposures and genetic susceptibility (ie, family history) (Castro 2010; Agarwal 2010a,b; Dieude 2011). For example, exposure to chemicals like polyvinyl chloride (used in the plastics industry), industrial solvents (such as paint thinners), and silica may trigger or exacerbate scleroderma (Barnes 2012; Varga 2008; Mora 2009; NIAMS 2010). Also, over 30 genes and gene regions are known to influence scleroderma susceptibility; most of these genes are related to the immune system (Mayes 2012).