Harvard Health Letter

Ask the doctor: Is there a better way to treat morphea?

Q. My wife has morphea spots on many areas of her body. We are currently treating them with Dovonex cream, which seems to help a little but is very expensive. Do you have a better way to treat this disease? We have been told that very little is known about how to treat it.

A. Morphea (pronounced more-FEE-ah) is a fairly unusual skin condition. I see perhaps one or two cases a year. The plaque type — which is the most common and probably what your wife has — affects women more often than it does men and typically is seen on the trunk. It's caused by an overproduction of collagen by cells in the skin called fibroblasts. Why fibroblasts start overproducing collagen is unclear.

The extra collagen makes the affected skin feel hard. Round or oval areas of the skin may become discolored, turning an ivory or brown color.

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