Our Virtual Education Sessions are a great way to get support with the day-to-day of scleroderma and to connect with us here at Scleroderma Victoria.

Always insightful, these sessions run on the second Saturday of every month.

In October, we discussed skin, hands, and Raynaud’s phenomenon. In case you missed it, or just need a recap, here are the takeaways from the session.


The October Virtual Education Session coincided with World Skin Health Day.

We were lucky enough to get dermatologist Dr Amanda Saracino to join us. She shared her valuable experience and learnings on scleroderma and skin.

Sclerotic skin disease

While scleroderma patients often focus on internal issues, the skin can also be a concern.

Dr Saracino said that having a dermatologist involved in your care can help provide additional support and alleviate worries.

Dr Saracino also taught us about the differences between morphoea and systemic sclerosis (SSc). In the latter, skin features include:

  • Sclerodactyly
  • Joint contractures
  • Raynaud’s
  • Telangiectases
  • Calcinosis
  • Itching, and
  • Pigmentation.

Itchy skin

What helps itchy skin? Dr Saracino said that itching is linked to active inflammation, also known as fibrosis. So treatments for itchy skin often deal with the underlying condition.

But to help provide relief, she recommends moisturising regularly and wearing loose cotton clothing.

You can also use ceramide creams to create a protective barrier. The best way to apply is downwards, to avoid folliculitis.

Anti-ageing products

Dr Saracino also shared her wisdom on anti-ageing products.

She said it’s best to avoid collagen boosting products, as there’s not enough evidence to support them. These products include hyaluronic acid, collagen, elastin, and ‘collagen boosters’.

But Dr Saracino does recommend using other products that can have anti-ageing effects, including:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin B3
  • Retinoids (while effective, these may also irritate, as they make your skin sensitive to light)
  • Alpha Hydroxy Acid, and
  • Sunscreen (UVB, SPF, UVA, “broad spectrum”)

Product suggestions

You’ve probably wondered, ‘What’s the best moisturiser?’ According to Dr Saracino, it’s the one you like the most!

Dr Saracino also talked us through some product recommendations for different needs:

  • Itching: QV Intensive, Dermeeze Treatment Ointment.
  • Mid-range greasiness creams: QV Moisturising or Ceravae Moisturising Cream.
  • Compounded creams: Urea, propylene glycol.
  • Fissures: Zinc oxide paste, olive oil, salicylic acid in zinc oxide paste.
  • Non-greasy Lotions: Aveeno, Ceravae.
  • Paraffin free (non-flammable): Neutrogena Norwegian Hand cream, Eucerin 10% urea lotion.

Raynaud’s phenomenon

Raynaud’s (sounds like “RAY-nose”) phenomenon is a circulation condition that often affects people with scleroderma. As you may already know, it makes your fingers and toes feel numb and cold.

During her time with us, Dr Saracino shared some practical tips on alleviating Raynaud’s disease symptoms:

  • Avoid smoking, drinking coffee and using beta-blocker medications
  • Wear double-lined gloves and silver socks (buy at Autoimmune)
  • Buy heat pads for shoes and gloves
  • Wear thermal insoles made to measure by a podiatrist, or try Skechers Memory Foam Trainers
  • Avoid abrupt changes in temperature
  • Moisturise and apply zinc oxide to fissures
  • Take plenty of vitamin C & E
  • Use supplements such as GLA (Evening Primrose Oil), ginko biloba and ginger, and
  • Eat foods containing resveratrol, such as grapes, blueberries and raspberries.

Tips for dealing with Raynaud’s

Once we said our goodbyes to Dr Saracino, we spent some time discussing other tips for alleviating the discomfort of Raynaud’s. Here are some strategies we exchanged:

  • Wear fingerless gloves over a second pair of full gloves
  • Wear thermal underclothing to keep your core warm
  • Try UNIQLO’s Ultra Light Down jacket or a heated Milwaukee Jacket, and
  • Buy Hot Hands and Toasti-Toes.

Want more info on Raynaud’s and how to deal with it? Download Scleroderma Australia’s free Raynaud’s Brochure.


Moving onto a related topic, we looked at hand exercises to improve circulation.

The Scleroderma Patient-centred Intervention Network (SPIN) has developed some great online videos that show you how to do hand exercises.

These videos are free, and the exercises are easy to do while watching TV on the couch or relaxing at home. All you have to do to access them is click the link above and register.

Loved this session recap?

If you enjoyed this blog, you’ll love attending our Virtual Education Sessions for yourself.

We always learn so much, and it’s a great way to connect with the scleroderma community, no matter where you are in Australia.

Be sure to register for the next event – we’re looking forward to seeing you there.