Author: Shelley Ensz. Scleroderma is highly variable. See Types of Scleroderma. Read Disclaimer
Video Overview
Types of Morphea
Juvenile Scleroderma
Associated Conditions
Causes of Morphea
Complications of Morphea
Patient and Caregiver Stories


The most important thing to know about morphea scleroderma is that it is entirely different from systemic scleroderma — and it is never fatal.
Overview of Morphea Video
Video: Overview of Morphea

Presented by Amanda Thorpe
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Morphea is a type of localized scleroderma. It affects the skin and sometimes underlying muscles and joints, which can cause disability, but it is not life threatening.

Morphea is usually diagnosed by clinical examination and can be confirmed with a skin biopsy. It is most commonly found on the trunk but it can occur anywhere on the body.

It's most common form is a plaque-type that affects only skin and that often begins fading 3 to 5 years after onset, even without treatment. However the deeper, rapidly spreading forms of morphea require early diagnosis and, if possible, treatment by a scleroderma expert.

Currently, UVA1 phototherapy is widely recommended as a first-line treatment for morphea, and it is also used for treating well-established morphea. (Also see Morphea Treatments)

Morphea usually begins as patches of yellowish or ivory-colored rigid, dry skin. These then become hard, slightly depressed, oval-shaped plaques which usually have a whitish or yellowish center surrounded by a pinkish or purplish halo.

Morphea is most commonly found on the trunk, but it can occur anywhere on the body. About 75% of the time it affects only the skin or underlying muscles and joints.

Skin mapping for the classification of generalized morphea. Symmetric and isomorphic subsets possess distinctive demographic and clinical features, suggesting they more accurately define the phenotype of generalized morphea. PubMed, J Am Acad Dermatol, 2018 Feb;78(2):351-357.

Types of Morphea

The most common type of morphea is a simple plaque-type, which affects only the skin and not the underlying tissues. It typically begins fading within about 3-5 years after onset, even without any treatment at all. Deeper, fast-spreading, cosmetically apparent, or different forms of morphea require early diagnosis and, preferably, treatment by a scleroderma expert. The rare types of morphea include:

Bullous Morphea
Deep Morphea
Dermatitis Artefacta
Generalized Morphea
Guttate Morphea
Keloid Morphea
Morpheaform or Basal Cell
Morphea Profunda (Subcutaneous)
Pansclerotic Morphea

Morphea, also known as localized scleroderma, is a disorder characterized by thickening and induration of the skin and subcutaneous tissue due to excessive collagen deposition. Morphea subtypes are classified according to their clinical presentation and depth of tissue involvement; they include plaque-type, generalized, linear, and deep varieties. Medscape.

Morphea scleroderma and its variants are also known as atrophoderma of Pasini and Pierini, bullous morphea, circumscribed scleroderma, deep morphea, disabling pansclerotic morphea, en coup de sabre, eosinophilic fasciitis, generalized morphea, guttate morphea, keloid, keloidal, or keloid-like morphea, linear morphea, localized scleroderma, morphea profunda, nodular morphea, pansclerotic morphea, plaque-type morphea, progressive hemifacial atrophy, progressive facial atrophy, Parry Rombergs, Shulman's syndrome, and subcutaneous morphea.

Juvenile Scleroderma

Juvenile Scleroderma. When any form of scleroderma begins during childhood (including morphea) it is also called childhood or juvenile scleroderma. (Also see Types of Scleroderma)

Coping with a Child's Illness
Patient and Caregiver Stories

Associated Conditions

Conditions Associated with Morphea Scleroderma. About 25% of morphea patients will have at least one extra-cutaneous (non-skin) manifestation, but less than 4% of morphea patients will develop more than two non-skin manifestations. ISN.

Additional Symptoms
Autoimmune Conditions
Cancer: T-Cell Lymphoma
Skin Conditions
Systemic Scleroderma


Causes of Morphea. The cause of morphea scleroderma is unknown in most cases, however sometimes it has been association with cancer, infections, medications, radiation, solvents, and vitamin B12. ISN.

Cancer, Lymphoma
Borrelia Burgorferi
HTLV-1 Infection
Toxoplasma Gondii
Valproic Acid
Solvents, Organic Solvents

Complications of Morphea

Inflammatory arthritis in pediatric patients with morphea. Pediatric morphea co–existed with inflammatory arthritis in 11 out of 53 children and further understanding and appreciation of this relationship may direct more intensive therapy and musculoskeletal screening. PubMed, J Am Acad Dermatol, 03/10/2018.

Case Reports: Morphoea with prominent plasma cell endoneuritis. We report two cases of morphoea that histologically showed plasma cell endoneuritis associated with subtle dermal sclerosis. PubMed, Clin Exp Dermatol.

(Case Reports) Morphea of the breast. PubMed, J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg.


Diagnosis of Morphea. Morphea is usually diagnosed by clinical examination. The diagnosis is sometimes confirmed with blood tests, skin biopsies, or other methods. ISN.

Morphea is a Clinical Diagnosis
Photos of Morphea
Antibodies/Blood Tests
Morphea Skin Biopsy


ISN Photo Repository: Morphea Photos. ISN.


Scleroderma Experts
Apligraf for Bullous Ulcers
Alternative Therapies
Endermology or LPG
Imiquimod Cream
Methotrexate and Glucocorticoids
Phototherapy, UVA, PUVA
Tacrolimus Cream: Warning

English Morphea Patient and Caregiver Stories

(English) Morphea Patient and Caregiver Stories (Main Listing). ISN.

Italian Morphea Patient and Caregiver Stories

(Italiano) Morphea Storia. ISN.

Spanish Morphea Patient and Caregiver Stories

(Español/Spanish) Morfea Historia. ISN.

Go to Associated Conditions

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